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Goddard files exploratory committee

Paving the way for his third run for Arizona’s top job, Attorney General Terry Goddard took his first official step by filing an exploratory committee for a 2010 gubernatorial run.

“I love Arizona and am deeply concerned about our future. I share the frustration of countless Arizonans with the direction our state is headed and the lack of leadership at the Capitol. In this economy, the top priority of state government must be restoring and attracting quality jobs, but under the current leadership we are going in the opposite direction. It’s clear that we must have new leadership and a new direction,” Goddard stated in a media release sent Nov. 6, shortly after filing his paperwork with the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office.

The announcement comes one day after incumbent Republican Gov. Jan Brewer formally announced that she will seek a full term as governor. Unlike Brewer, who faces several potential primary challengers, Goddard’s path to the Democratic nomination seems clear. His most likely challenger, developer and former party chairman Jim Pederson, announced earlier in the year that he would not run.

Goddard cannot formally declare himself a candidate until Jan. 1, due to Arizona’s resign-to-run law. Goddard has already been accused of violating the law for telling a crowd at a Democratic Party event earlier in the year that he intends to run for governor in 2010.

“During this exploratory period, I will listen to Arizonans across our state, to hear their concerns and ideas for our future. Arizona needs a leader with the strength to end the partisan rancor and find bipartisan answers to the challenges facing our State,” Goddard stated.

Goddard has kept largely quiet on the budget crisis facing the state and has not weighed in on the temporary tax increase that Brewer proposed to balance the budget. He has, however, been sharply critical of cuts to his office, which he said have lowered staffing levels to 1995 levels at a time when the state is facing increased lawsuits from budget actions taken by Brewer and the Legislature, as well an increase in crimes like fraud and child abuse induced by the economic crisis.

Goddard, who served as mayor of Phoenix in the 1980s, made his first run for governor in 1990. He lost by about 4,200 votes to Republican Fife Symington in the general election, which forced a runoff election under existing state law. He lost that runoff by a significantly wider margin. He also ran in 1994, losing the Democratic nomination to grocery store magnate Eddie Basha.

Recent polling shows Goddard beating Brewer, as well as other Republican candidates, in the general election. But pollster Bruce Merrill, who runs the Cronkite/Eight Poll, said head-to-head polling at this point in the election cycle is not reliable. Many voters, he said, don’t know much about either Goddard or Brewer.

“All they’re really voting (in polls) is either on the basis of party or some maybe anti voting against one of them,” Merrill said. “You get a first decent measurement maybe in March or April, after there’s been more discussion and people know a little bit more about them.”

Goddard’s campaign committee is being chaired by former Gov. Rose Mofford.

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