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This guy, ladies and gentlemen, is the GOP frontrunner:

Ken Bennett, the Arizona secretary of state best known for threatening to leave President Obama off the ballot in the state if Hawaii didn't produce verification of Obama's birthplace, is now a leading candidate in the Republican primary to become the state's next governor.

Bennett, who insists that he's not a birther, sent a request to Hawaiian officials for verification of Obama's birthplace in the spring of 2012, about a year after the White House produced a detailed copy of Obama's birth certificate. Bennett was following in the footsteps of Joe Arpaio, the controversial Republican sheriff of Maricopa County, who had launched his own investigation into the authenticity of Obama's birth certificate the year before. (Arpaio ultimately concluded that the birth certificate released by the White House was "definitely fraudulent.") Bennett asked Hawaii to provide "a verification in lieu of a certified copy of a birth certificate." (As Alex Koppelman points out in The New Yorker, a die-hard birther would never be satisfied with "verification in lieu" of a birth certificate.) At first, Bennett told CBS 5 that he looked into the issue on the request of "a constituent." (He told Mother Jones this week that he received "thousands" of emails from constituents.) Bennett told Phoenix station KFYI that if Hawaii refused to comply with his request, it was "possible" that that he would exclude Obama from the ballot.

"As Arizona's chief elections officer, I have the responsibility to certify the ballot to the state's 15 counties," Bennett tells Mother Jones in an email. "At the request of numerous constituents, I merely asked Hawaiian officials to verify the information contained within President Obama's original birth certificate. They eventually complied with the request and I considered the matter closed." He adds, "I always felt the President was a U.S. citizen, and the controversy was a distraction from the real issues of the campaign.​" - Mother Jones, 6/3/14

Yep, this guy is the frontrunner in primary with seven other GOP candidates and they're all pretty awful in their own way.  Like State Senator Al Melvin (R. AZ):

Then there's former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas (R. AZ):

A former top Arizona prosecutor and anti-illegal immigration crusader used his office to destroy political enemies, filed malicious and unfounded criminal charges and committed perjury and other crimes, a state legal ethics panel ruled on Tuesday in Phoenix.

The three-member panel voted unanimously to disbar Andrew Thomas, the former Maricopa County attorney, and his former top deputy, Lisa Aubuchon. Thomas was elected in 2004 and resigned in 2010 during his second term to pursue an unsuccessful run for Arizona attorney general.

"This is the story of the public trust dishonored, desecrated and defiled," the ethics panel said.

As chief prosecutor for Arizona's most populous county, which covers much of the Phoenix area, Thomas, a Republican, gained national prominence after joining forces with Joe Arpaio, Maricopa County's controversial sheriff, in aggressively pursuing, detaining and prosecuting undocumented immigrants.

A series of failed public corruption prosecutions, also closely plotted with Arpaio, proved Thomas's downfall. After the cases collapsed, a far-reaching independent investigation authorized by the Arizona Supreme Court revealed stunning ethical lapses, according to the scathing 247-page report by the review panel.

Thomas suffered from "profound arrogance" that led him into "ethical ruin," said the panel, headed by William O'Neill, the state's presiding disciplinary judge. - Huffington Post, 4/11/12

State Treasurer Doug Ducey (R. AZ) is backed by this clown:

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) is wading into the crowded Arizona governor's race by throwing his support behind state treasurer Doug Ducey (R) Wednesday morning.

"Doug Ducey demonstrates the kind of conservative, common-sense leadership that our party needs in Arizona," Walker said in a statement shared with Post Politics by Ducey's campaign. "He’s not afraid of taking on tough challenges, and that’s why I know he’d be a great Governor."

Ducey is among a field of Republicans vying to succeed outgoing Gov. Jan Brewer (R). Brewer announced earlier this year that she would not challenge state term limit laws to pursue another term -- a possibility that she had been mulling for months. - Washington Post, 5/14/14

Then there's Mesa mayor Scott Smith (R. AZ) who's trying to run as a centrist in the primary:

Smith’s bet is to grab enough business-oriented moderates and registered independents voting in the GOP primary to top the other major contenders including Ducey, Jones and Secretary of State Ken Bennett. Bennett has had the early lead in some polls, though most voters are undecided.

Smith is backing Gov. Jan Brewer’s controversial Medicaid expansion push and the so-called Common Core education standards. Hospitals and businesses like those policies but many conservatives don’t.

“If Gov. Brewer’s opponents — including my fellow Republican candidates for Governor — have their way, the will of the people will be ignored and more than 150,000 Arizonans living in poverty will lose their health insurance. The state budget will explode,” Smith said.
Smith also made an appearance earlier this week at an export trade promotion event put on by the Brookings Institution and Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton. - Phoenix Business Journal, 5/15/14

But Smith is currently in third place in the primary.  Bennett remains the frontrunner with former GoDaddy executive Christine Jones (R. AZ) in second place:

Her time at GoDaddy — which was acquired by private equity firms in 2011 for $2.25 billion — netted her plenty of personal wealth.

Some political consultants say Jones could put as much as $8 million of her own money into the governor’s race, her first run for public office.

Jones, 45, wouldn’t say how much she’s willing to spend on the race, but says it's an advantages to be focused on “raising votes as opposed to raising money."

Jones is also staking out the most conservative stance on immigration among the top contenders in the primary. She is the “no amnesty” candidate and supports Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu.

She lists immigration among her top three issues, along with economic development and education.

“Immigration is the issue that comes up the most,” said Jones of her talks with Republican primary voters.

The contentious issue could be hoisted to the forefront of the race if Congress moves forward with business-backed federal immigration reforms.

Jones won’t call herself a tea party candidate but hopes GOP primary voters view her as a conservative outsider not beholden to special interests, lobbyists or political career ladder-climbing she sees in some of her primary challengers. - Phoenix Business Journal, 5/29/14

So as you can see, this race is filled with nuts eyeing to succeed outgoing Governor Jan Brewer (R. AZ).  But luckily for us, we have a great candidate in Fred DuVal (D. AZ):

Fred DuVal (D. AZ), likely Democratic candidate for Governor.
On the Democratic side, former Arizona Board of Regents chairman Fred DuVal is the presumptive nominee. DuVal, a Clinton White House veteran, defines himself as a “solutions-oriented centrist” who is “pro-business, pro-growth, pro-equal opportunity, and pro-inclusion.” He cites Colorado Gov. Jon Hickenlooper (a Democrat) and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (a Republican) as models.  

Public polling is sparse in the Arizona gubernatorial race, but DuVal appears to stand a fighting chance against several of his potential Republican opponents. Smith and Bennett lead him in hypothetical match-ups, while Jones lags by four points. Ducey would be in a virtual dead head.  

The extended primary may also benefit DuVal. He said in an interview with RCP that “the significance of the [Republican] primary is not its volume but its tone,” adding that the GOP lacks true moderate voices. While his opponents may disagree with that assertion, the candidates have expressed mixed feelings about the wide-open primary.  

Publicly and privately, some are concerned that it’s become a distraction that will benefit DuVal. Molina told RCP that it shows a lack of GOP unity, while another candidate said it would be preferable for the party to more quickly weed out unserious candidates. Others, however, argue that the process will strengthen the standard-bearer for November. Ducey said, “I think it’s good to have people coming in and making their case. It should be hard.”

Arizona isn’t a perfect microcosm of the United States. It has its own unique challenges, and it’s significantly more conservative than the country as a whole. So why does its gubernatorial race matter outside the state lines? Put simply: There’s much to learn from it.

The primary and general election dynamics are very similar to what the upcoming presidential contest will look like if former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton runs. Republican politicians preparing for a crowded intra-party race can study how the victor on Arizona’s GOP side distinguished himself (or herself). Further, taking note of how the party’s base reacts to certain heresies -- like supporting Common Core or a pathway to citizenship -- could help national Republicans gauge their approach to those issues.

Likewise, should DuVal prevail in November, Democrats may look to his campaign as a case study in how to best utilize the extra months of campaigning without intra-party distractions. His Clintonian brand of moderation may also form a template for how Democrats can beat tough fundamentals in red states. - RCP, 4/30/14

DuVal has one hell of a resume:
Raised in Tucson, Fred learned the value of education when he was still a boy, as his father founded and led the medical school at the University of Arizona. After Fred graduated from Tucson High School, he received his B.A. from Occidental College, and moved home to Arizona to build a life of his own. Fred learned early how important it is to be a problem solver. When he worked in Governor Bruce Babbitt’s office, he helped develop the common ground that led to Arizona’s groundwater legislation, created our state Medicaid system—the most cost effective system in the country—and set record levels of education funding.

Arizona has grown and changed tremendously in our lifetimes, and those changes have been a source of opportunities and challenges for our state. Fred worked for Babbitt back when Arizona was managing a wave of enormous growth; he served in a senior role in Bill Clinton’s White House when we turned our economy around and balanced our budget. More recently, Fred worked in the renewable energy business with Republican oilman T. Boone Pickens when it became clear that we couldn’t remain dependent on foreign oil; and he helped to lead Arizona’s public university system just as our national economy was collapsing, which almost put higher education out of reach for millions of Arizonans.

As a member of the Arizona Board of Regents, Fred found ways to keep those opportunities alive for the next generation. When some in positions of power called for closing down campuses, literally shutting the doors of opportunity, Fred fought back. He designed and led the initiative that resulted in Universities and Community Colleges offering co-enrollment and seamless transfer of credits – an innovative approach that helped keep Arizona post-secondary education affordable. He assured that financial aid increased faster than the rate of inflation for those in need. As Chairman of the Board, Fred pioneered a new funding model that holds the Universities more accountable and that received national acclaim. Fred also proposed—and delivered—the first zero tuition increase in modern Arizona history.

Throughout his life, Fred has demonstrated that he can think big, set goals, and accomplish great things in education and business—the keys to our prosperity. Fred doesn't care if it's a Democratic answer or a Republican answer, as long as it's the right answer for Arizona.

At the White House, President Clinton appointed Fred the Deputy Director of Intergovernmental Affairs. In this position he was responsible for the policy relationship between the federal government and all 50 states—governors, mayors, county officials and American Indian tribes. Fred helped negotiate the historic tobacco settlement that improved the nation’s health and lowered the cost of care for the uninsured.

Fred and his wife Jennifer live in Phoenix with their four-year-old son. Their older son, Will, attends college and is a ROTC cadet.

DuVal is on our side on LGBT rights:

Democratic candidate for Arizona governor Fred DuVal says he would support a state law giving civil rights to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender residents.

DuVal, my newsmaker guest on this weekend's "12 News Sunday Square Off," also discusses how he would pay for his economic and education proposals.

The question about LGBT civil rights came up in our discussion of the Legislature's and Gov. Jan Brewer's work this past session, which included the governor's veto of SB 1062. The debate over that bill made clear that LGBT residents have no civil rights under state or federal law. - AZ Central, 5/4/14

And immigration rights:

"Governor Brewer's executive order barring 'dreamers' from receiving driver's licenses is callous; it hurts families and local businesses, and it makes our streets less safe. These kids are talented, bright, and they were brought to this country as children through no fault of their own. Now, they're looking for opportunity — the opportunity to get a job, go to college and contribute to their community. Shame on Governor Brewer for denying them that opportunity.

"As governor, the very first thing I will do after taking the oath of office will be to rescind Governor Brewer's executive order and give our dreamers the opportunity they deserve." - Arizona Republic, 4/28/14

And just right when it comes to gun control:

"As a recreational shooter, gun owner, and strong supporter of the second amendment, I know that we can keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill without infringing on the right of the people to keep and bear arms.

"There's no guaranteed way to prevent mass shootings, but we can reduce gun violence and start healing the heartbreak from Sandy Hook, Aurora, Isla Vista, and Tucson by sharing mental health records between states and requiring background checks for all gun purchases." - AZ Central, 6/2/14

DuVal is running a no nonsense campaign:

Late last fall, when news broke that Child Protective Services put more than 6,500 allegations of child abuse and neglect into a “Do Not Open” drawer, we knew that years of under-resourcing caseworkers and preventative services had led us to a crisis moment.

Rather than acting on that crisis, our Legislators have left town without enough funding for the creation of the new family and child welfare agency, and only vague promises that it would come back later and actually set up the new agency — just don’t ask when.

And this year’s budget contained no additional funding for preventative services like childcare subsidies. These programs keep kids out of the CPS system in the first place, they save money, and help working parents afford quality child care while they’re at work. They’re one of the tools we have to rebuild Arizona’s middle class.

At the same time, the neglect of our K-12 schools continued for another year. After years of undervaluing education and billions of dollars of cuts, we’re still asking our teachers to do more with less.

That kind of “cut first” education isn’t good enough for my kids, and I don’t think it’s good enough for yours either. We need to be making targeted reinvestments in K-12 education that prioritize early childhood education and all-day kindergarten, not diverting more money out of public education and lowering standards by eliminating Common Core.

Meanwhile, despite scandal after scandal, politicians are still getting free tickets to ball games and we’re still one of the only states in the country without an independent ethics commission.

These issues — child protection, education and good government — are all incredibly important, but what did we hear the most about this session? Legalizing discrimination, allowing guns in libraries and field trips to visit a foolish rancher in Nevada.

Arizona’s falling behind in trade and education because, right now, our leaders lack a strategic vision for how to move Arizona forward. And in the absence of a strategic vision, partisanship will take precedent over problem solving. We deserve better. - Arizona Daily Star, 4/30/14

And he's been out on the campaign trail promoting his economic plan:

Much of DuVal’s plan focused on education. DuVal said he wants to expand vocational and technical training so students are better prepared for college and the workforce, emphasize training for in-demand fields and restore the all-day kindergarten program that was cut amid the state’s fiscal crisis.

DuVal said improving education is critical to creating jobs.

“The common denominator, of course, to all this is getting back to a much more robust investment in education as the core requirement of the workforce of the future,” DuVal said.

DuVal said he wants to expand Arizona’s Angel Investment tax credit, which gives financial incentives to people who make investments in small businesses, and the state’s tax credit for research and development. He said he’s spoken with people in the venture capital community who say the credits don’t last for long enough to make them worthwhile in many cases.

Additionally, DuVal said he plans to bolster Arizona’s bioscience and technology sectors with increased state investment in Science Foundation Arizona and the Translational Genomics Research Institute, known as TGen. He said the state must restore funding that was cut to the science foundation and ensure that TGen has more stable funding from the state. The Legislature and Gov. Jan Brewer approved $15 million in funding for the organization over the next five years.

Parts of DuVal’s plan build on Brewer’s efforts to curb new regulations. DuVal said he will continue Brewer’s moratorium on new regulations, as well as eliminate unnecessary regulations and screen all legislation that includes regulatory burdens with a “competitiveness impact statement” to determine the impact that proposed regulations will have.

DuVal also said he wants to expand tourism by promoting a “new day in Arizona” to negative perceptions of the state and lost conventions and tourisms stemming from controversial legislation that Arizona has passed. In addition, DuVal said he wants to increase funding for state parks that has been cut in recent years. - Blog For Arizona, 5/10/14

And the best part is DuVal has a shot at winning:

Moving on to the Governor's race for this year, it looks pretty wide open for both the Republican primary and the general election. The leader for the GOP nomination is 'undecided' at 34%. 5 candidates have measurable amounts of support at this point- Ken Bennett at 20%, Christine Jones at 16%, Scott Smith at 12%, Andrew Thomas at 9%, and Doug Ducey at 6%. Al Melvin, John Molina, and Frank Riggs all register at 1% in the poll.

The high level of indecision among GOP primary voters speaks to what unknowns these candidates are with voters in the state. Thomas is the best known, but even he has just 40% name recognition. Despite serving in statewide office Bennett and Ducey have only 31% and 25% name recognition respectively, and none of the rest are over 25%.

In hypothetical general election contests between Democratic candidate Fred DuVal (who has just 27% name recognition) and the Republican field, no candidate ever gets more than 40%. DuVal trails Scott Smith (39/33) and Ken Bennett (37/33) but leads the rest of the GOP hopefuls- it's 36/35 over Doug Ducey, 35/32 over John Molina, 36/32 over Frank Riggs, 37/33 over Christine Jones, 37/32 over Al Melvin, and 40/35 over Andrew Thomas. Overall the race has to be considered a toss up at this point. - PPP, 3/4/14

I seriously am looking forward to this race and think we have a great shot here.  If you would like to get involved and donate to DuVal's campaign, you can do so here:

Originally posted to pdc on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 07:47 PM PDT.

Also republished by LGBT Rights are Human Rights, LGBT Kos Community, Milk Men And Women, LatinoKos, Youth Kos 2.0, The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party, Firearms Law and Policy, Phoenix Kossacks, Repeal or Amend the Second Amendment (RASA), Baja Arizona Kossacks, and Shut Down the NRA.

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