Arizona is sitting somewhere between keeping the 2020 election alive and preparing for the 2022 election, where all statewide executive offices will be on the ballot as well as a U.S. Senate seat.
As an audit of the previous election dominates the headlines, candidates from both major political parties are already beginning to launch campaigns for 2022.
In a matter of hours on May 17, two Republican women announced bids for governor and both have close ties to Gov. Doug Ducey, who terms out after 2022.
Arizona State Treasurer Kimberly Yee launched her campaign for governor that morning, which has been widely expected since she was sworn in as treasurer in January 2019, and that afternoon developer and Ducey-appointed regent Karrin Taylor Robson also announced her bid.
Yee is the first Republican to jump into the race and she did so with a slick campaign ad that shows she will attempt to focus on two issues that will appeal to a wide base of Republicans – the border and opposing “socialist policies.”
The video also leaned heavily on President Trump.
“President Trump’s America First agenda had our economy booming like never before,” Yee said. “But now, our way of life is under attack by the corrupt press, reckless corporate leaders and politicians who put socialist ideals over people, our freedom of speech and our elections.”
Yee was seen several times on the campaign trail stumping for Trump and was front-and-center attempting to defeat a 2020 ballot measure for a new tax to fund education.
Yee has been silent on any topic of the election, never addressing whether she thinks the election was stolen, if Biden is the legitimate president and her thoughts on the audit of Maricopa County’s ballots.
In contrast, Robson’s video announcement was short and to the point. In 45 seconds, she took a shot at President Biden and Vice President Harris and said she’s excited to travel around Arizona to hear from Arizonans “about how we can stand together and fight the radical Biden-Harris agenda.”
Robson and Yee will have to duke it out for Ducey’s support, as both have been close allies of the governor.
Neither Yee nor Robson could be reached for comment.
With roughly 18 months to go until the 2022 election, Arizona’s other statewide races are beginning to take shape, and Yee’s announcement means all but one statewide executive office will be open for the taking.
With strong potential GOP gubernatorial contenders in Robson, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich and former U.S. Rep Matt Salmon, there was some speculation that Yee might stay in her treasurer seat. But increasing rumors that Brnovich is leaning toward taking on Democrat Mark Kelly for the U.S. Senate, gave Yee an opportunity to position herself in the top tier of the potential primary candidates.
Yee’s announcement opens up another statewide race, leaving only Arizona Superintendent Kathy Hoffman running for re-election.
Secretary of State Katie Hobbs is expected to imminently join Marco Lopez in the Democratic primary for governor, leaving the Secretary of State’s Office vacant. Lopez, the former mayor of Nogales and one-time chief of staff of the Customs and Border Protection, launched his campaign in March. Rep. Aaron Lieberman, D-Paradise Valley, said he is considering a run for governor, but his current priority is passing a budget in the Legislature.
“I do think there is a real need in Arizona for common–sense leaders who can help this great state not just recover, but thrive and grow,” Lieberman said. “I can say this: If I run, I will have a top flight team with a track record of winning statewide in Arizona and all the resources I will need to compete and win.”
House Minority Leader Reginal Bolding, D-Laveen, and perhaps former Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes could run for secretary of state against Rep. Mark Finchem, R-Oro Valley, who has already filed his bid.
Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita, R-Scottsdale, who has been the prime sponsor of many election bills, is a likely candidate for the top election official, and former long-time state legislator Kate Brophy McGee told The Yellow Sheet Report the office was on a “very long list” of offices she’s looking at for a potential 2022 run.
Bolding confirmed to Yellow Sheet last month that he was “very much exploring” running for secretary of state.
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With Brnovich termed out, twice-failed congressional candidate Tiffany Shedd and former Arizona Supreme Court Justice Andrew Gould already jumped into the race for attorney general on the Republican side. Democrats also have a candidate in Rep. Diego Rodriguez, D-Phoenix, who filed last week one day after January Contreras, the 2018 candidate, announced she would not run.
Meanwhile, there’s increasing chatter that U.S. Rep. Greg Stanton, a Democrat, may jump into the AG’s race. And for Republicans, perennial candidate Rodney Glassman, who has not won an election since he was a Tucson Democrat, is expected to jump in as is Lacy Cooper, a former U.S. attorney and Dawn Grove, the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry board chair.
The Treasurer’s Office hasn’t fielded many rumored candidates, except Sen. David Livingston, R-Peoria, who has been long rumored to have his eye on the office. No Democrats have been rumored thus far, but Mark Manoil, who ran in 2018 and lost to Yee by roughly 9 percentage points, is a possibility to run again.
Nobody has served two terms in that office since Tony West won in 1990 and 1994 and no Democrat has held that office since Bob Kennedy in 1964.
Hoffman recently found a Republican challenger in Tom Horne, the former superintendent of public instruction and attorney general, but sources haven’t said much about other Republicans eyeing the chance to take her on yet. A couple of local school board members filed to run for the race already, though.
Finally, Bill Pierce, a 2018 fan favorite for mine inspector, posted on Facebook earlier this year he was going to run again since Joe Hart is termed out, but Pierce has not yet filed his statement of interest.