A freshman lawmaker and a former Arizona real estate commissioner are vying for the Democratic nod to become the state’s next chief elections officer and second in line to the governor.
The secretary of state’s race drew few candidates this year, and the only contest in Tuesday’s primary is between Democrats Chris Deschene of LeChee on the Navajo Nation and Sam Wercinski of Phoenix.
Wercinski has outspent Deschene by more than $30,000 in his first run at political office. The 48-year-old veteran who served two years as state real estate commissioner, touts his experience in the private sector. He said he has a proven record of fixing broken state government and values that resonate with Arizonans.
Deschene, a 39-year-old veteran, has experience in the legal and engineering fields. He was elected to the state Legislature in 2008 and said has worked on bills that directly affect the voting rights of state residents. He says his diverse background makes him best suited for the job.
Both candidates say they want the secretary of state to have more of an active role in state government that would better reflect the duties assumed when the governor is absent.
The governor’s powers go to the secretary of state when the governor is absent from the state. Five secretaries of state have assumed the governorship in Arizona history.
Arizona does not have a lieutenant governor, though a ballot measure this year could change that.
Whoever wins the Democratic primary will go up against Republican Secretary of State Ken Bennett, who was appointed to the position after Jan Brewer was elevated to governor, in the Nov. 2 general election.
Green Party candidate Michelle Lochmann has filed as a write-in candidate.