Ending more than a year of speculation about his political future, Mesa Mayor Scott Smith announced his candidacy for governor, adding another big-name candidate to the already crowded field for the Republican primary.
Smith, who began his second term as mayor last year, said his combination of success in the private sector and as head of one of Arizona’s largest cities makes him uniquely qualified to be governor. He said he wants to apply the principles he used to revitalize Mesa to the state as a whole.
“Others can say what they want to do. I can say I’ve done it. I have a track record,” Smith told reporters Thursday at the Secretary of State’s Office. “That’s a story that no one else can tell. That’s a message that no one can say.”
Smith touted his record as mayor, which includes erasing a $62 million budget deficit without a tax increase and attracting major companies such as Apple to the city.
“We have a great track record in education, in economic development, and also in managing the resources of government, making tough choices and applying those on a larger scale. I think Arizona is at a very unique time in its history,” Smith said.
Smith said he likely won’t resign as mayor for two or three months, but that he didn’t think the late start to his campaign would be a hindrance. He will also step down as president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.
The Republican primary for governor was already crowded. Secretary of State Ken Bennett, state Treasurer Doug Ducey and former GoDaddy executive Christine Jones are viewed by many as top-tier candidates. State Sen. Al Melvin and former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas are running as well.
Earlier in the week, Ducey announced that his campaign had already raised more than $1 million. Smith, who, like Ducey, has deep connections in the business community, didn’t say whether he could match Ducey’s fundraising, but said he’ll have enough resources to win.
“We’re going to get enough money that we can get our message out. That’s our main concern. This isn’t a cookie sale where the one with the most boxes gets the prize. This is the one where the one who can connect with voters and who can get the message out and give them a choice,” Smith said.