State Treasurer Dean Martin dropped out of the governor’s race July 9, saying he would stand aside and support Gov. Jan Brewer in her battles with the Obama administration and the federal government.
“Governor Brewer is going to need all our help to shoulder the burden of defending Arizona from the federal government. It is our duty to stand together as Arizona residents against an intrusive federal bureaucracy,” Martin said in his announcement that he characterized as “suspending” his campaign. “Our state and the residents of Arizona are more important than playing politics.”
Martin had been fiercely critical of Brewer’s policies, but said a contested primary would be a distraction to the state at a time when it is facing a “frivolous lawsuit” from the federal government over S1070, budget problems and a shaky economy. He urged Brewer to sue the federal government over the costs Arizona has incurred due to the unsecure border.
Martin said his chief goal was to support Brewer and ensure that Democratic Attorney General Terry Goddard is not elected governor.
Once his term as treasurer ends in January, Martin said he would focus much of his time on the charity he founded in his late wife’s honor. Kerry Martin died in May 2009 while giving birth to the couple’s first child. Their newborn son, Austin, died as well.
Campaign manager Renee Roebuck said Martin was spending time with his family and was unavailable for comment.
Brewer said she respected Martin’s decision and thanked him for his support against Obama.
“I am grateful to have his support in our fight against the Obama administration and their failed policies,” Brewer wrote in a press statement. “I agree with Mr. Martin that the greatest threat to Arizona’s economic recovery is from the Obama administration and those who embody his agenda, such as Attorney General Terry Goddard. We must stand together to continue Arizona’s comeback.”
Prior to his July 9 announcement, Martin’s moribund campaign had been showing some signs of life.
The grand opening of Martin’s campaign office near 32nd St. and Shea was scheduled for July 10, and volunteers began putting up campaign signs several days earlier. He hired an out-of-state consulting firm, Las Vegas-based Erwin & Associates, several weeks earlier. He finally received his $707,000 in Clean Elections funding in late June.
The end of Martin’s campaign leaves the Republican primary as a two-way race between Brewer and northern Arizona businessman Buz Mills.
Mills said Martin’s exit leaves him as the only alternative to the “tax-and-spend policies” of Brewer, who angered many conservatives with her push for one-cent sales tax increase.
“Treasurer Martin and I both opposed Brewer’s $3 billion sales tax hike, we both called for a budget balanced through spending cuts and we both called for a more secure border. The fiscal conservatives who supported Dean Martin can take heart in the fact that I am still in this race and that I share his belief that government can’t spend more than it takes in,” Mills said in a press statement.
Political consultant Shane Wikfors, a Martin supporter, said he felt the treasurer was too quick to get out of the race. Many conservatives still oppose Brewer over her push for the sales tax hike, he said, and a federal injunction could prevent S1070 from going into effect, ending boycotts it inspired against the state and depriving Brewer of the issue that has given her a massive lead in the polls.
“That doesn’t leave very many choices left for the real conservatives to get behind now,” Wikfors said. “(Brewer) sure can’t run on her record on taxes. That’s why I think there was still a light at the end of the tunnel for Dean in this race.”
Brewer looked exceptionally vulnerable when Martin entered the race in January and the treasurer looked like the governor’s strongest challenger for the GOP nomination. But Brewer’s popularity skyrocketed after signing S1070, Arizona’s strict new illegal immigration law, and some polls showed her leading Martin and Mills by 45 percent.
Martin suffered other setbacks as well. He struggled to collect his $5 qualifying contributions for Clean Elections funding and was overshadowed by the free-spending Mills, who has spent more than $3 million of his personal fortune on his campaign. A U.S. Supreme Court ruling barring the state from distributing matching funds to Clean Elections candidates further increased the odds against Martin.