Sen. Leah Landrum Taylor ended her exploratory campaign and announced an official run for secretary of state, becoming the first Democrat in the race for Arizona’s number two office.
Landrum Taylor, D-Phoenix, said Arizona needs to ensure free and fair access to the ballot for all voters, and spoke out against voting laws that she said restrict people’s right to vote, such as HB2305, an omnibus elections bill that opponents referred to the ballot for 2014.
“I’m running for secretary of state because I know that the right to vote must be defended, expanded, not contracted, and that the more certain our state is that each registered citizen is afforded a clean and transparent and trustworthy opportunity to vote, the stronger our state will be,” she said during a campaign announcement at the Capitol on Monday.
Landrum Taylor emphasized her bipartisan credentials. She said she has a history of working across the aisle, and stressed her role in the 2013 battle for Gov. Jan Brewer’s Medicaid expansion plan, which was passed by a majority Democratic coalition.
“A sense of bipartisanship is not just political rhetoric, but something we actually need to believe in here. It’s not just what’s good for Arizona, but it’s something I’m proud to have walked the walk in the past decades of my public service,” she said.
Landrum Taylor served as Senate minority leader during the 2013 session, but was ousted by her fellow Senate Democrats in October and replaced by Sen. Anna Tovar. Landrum Taylor downplayed the impact that the ouster would have on her campaign, and said she would instead focus on her accomplishments as Arizona’s first African-American Senate minority leader.
“Throughout that time, what I did as Senate minority leader is extremely important. I was integral in making sure that we got the Medicaid expansion passed forward and kept a coalition together, not just of Democrats but also of Republicans of like mind to go forward and make sure that we could get that Medicaid expansion,” she said.
Arizona remains a conservative state and the secretary of state’s race is likely to be an uphill battle for Landrum Taylor. Democrats traditionally struggle in low-profile, down-ballot races such as secretary of state, and Landrum Taylor is running as a Clean Elections candidate in a race that could pit her against a very well-funded Republican opponents.
Businessman Wil Cardon, Rep. Justin Pierce and Sen. Michele Reagan are running on the Republican side.
The Democratic primary could present a serious challenge as well. Former Attorney General Terry Goddard, a fixture in Arizona’s political scene for nearly 30 years, is considering a run for secretary of state, and is contemplating runs for attorney general and Corporation Commission as well.
Landrum Taylor noted that she is the only Democrat in the race so far, though she wouldn’t say whether she would stay in the race if Goddard runs.
“I think all those questions come when that time comes forward,” she said.