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Melvin eyes withdrawal from race over Clean Elections funding

Sen. Al Melvin, R-Tucson (Photo by Howard Fischer/Capitol Media Services)

Sen. Al Melvin, R-Tucson (Photo by Howard Fischer/Capitol Media Services)

Sen. Al Melvin said he’ll withdraw from the Republican primary for governor if he can’t qualify for Clean Elections funding.

In an email to supporters, Melvin said he will decide on June 26 whether he is “on pace” to collect the 4,500, $5 qualifying contributions he needs to get Clean Elections funding for his campaign. Melvin said June 27 is the last day to have his name removed from the ballot, and if he can’t qualify for Clean Elections funding, he’ll get out of the race.

“We have one week left until we have to make a decision regarding our campaign’s viability,” Melvin wrote in the email. “We are running out of time to qualify for Clean Elections funding if we want to give ourselves a chance to win this race. So we have set a deadline for ourselves of June 26 and we will sit down at the end of that day and decide whether we are on pace to get our $5 contributions on time or not.”

Melvin, a SaddleBrooke Republican, told the Arizona Capitol Times that collecting enough qualifying contributions has been more difficult than he anticipated. The three-term senator has run as a Clean Elections candidate before. But it takes far more qualifying contributions to get funding for a gubernatorial race than for a Senate campaign.

Clean Elections provides about $753,000 to gubernatorial candidates for the primary election.

Early ballots go out on July 31, and Melvin said he needs to qualify for Clean Elections funding before then. He wouldn’t say how many qualifying contributions he’s collected so far.

“It’s my understanding that about 60 to 70 percent of conservative Republicans vote in the early ballot. So to be a viable candidate, I need to qualify and get the Clean Elections funding by early July. And if I can’t get it, the wise thing I think would be to remove my name from the ballot,” he said.

But Melvin said he’s confident that he’ll get enough qualifying contributions. The point of the email wasn’t to set the stage for his withdrawal from the race, Melvin said, but to get the word out to supporters that he still needs their help.

“I want people to know that. I don’t want them to be saying to me in the middle of July, ‘If I had only known, I would have helped,’” Melvin said. “It’s not an easy task. It’s more difficult than I thought it would be. But I’m giving it, as they say, the good ‘ol college try. And I’m hoping that if I can get the word out to tea parties and conservatives throughout the state, that people will rise to the occasion and we’ll get it done.”

Melvin is in a seven-race for the GOP nomination for governor. He is running against Secretary of State Ken Bennett, state Treasurer Doug Ducey, former GoDaddy executive Christine Jones, former California Congressman Frank Riggs, former Mesa Mayor Scott Smith and disbarred former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas.

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