Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas announced Thursday he would resign next week to run for Arizona Attorney General.
The announcement has long been speculated, as Thomas opened an exploratory committee for the office months ago.
Thomas was the Republican nominee for Attorney General in 2002, but Democrat Terry Goddard defeated him in the general election. Goddard has reached his term limit and is running for the governor’s office.
Voters elected Thomas to Maricopa County Attorney in 2004. He was re-elected in 2008 on a platform that included cracking down on illegal immigration.
Most recently, his office has been marked by intense legal wrangling against Maricopa County’s top elected officials and judges that preside over the county’s courts.
His chief ally has been Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
Together, the pair contends they are seeking to snuff out corruption that exists at the highest levels of the county. His critics say he is abusing his power for political gain.
State Rep. David Lujan, a Democratic candidate for the Attorney General’s office, said via Twitter: “Thomas offers AZ exactly what we don’t need, an out-of-control politician who cares more about political vendettas than public safety.”
Thomas consultant Jason Rose said the prosecutor’s decision to get in the race was partially prompted by the recent murder of southern Arizona rancher Robert Krentz. Authorities said they tracked footprints from the crime scene to the Mexican border.
“He certainly was headed in this direction, but the events of this weekend took him from 95 percent to 100 percent certain,” Rose said.
His last day as county attorney is April 6.
Thomas said of his April Fool’s Day announcement: “April 1st seemed an appropriate day to announce my intentions, since Arizona Republicans won’t be fooled by conservative impostors also interested in this office. And Arizonans won’t be fooled by liberal candidates who are unproven crime fighters.”
Other Republican AG candidates include State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne and former assistant attorney general Tajudeen Oladiran. Besides Lujan, Democrats include former assistant attorney general Vince Rabago and former assistant attorney general Felecia Rotellini.