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SEE AL RUN

Sen. Al Melvin has joined the ranks of Republicans who want to run for governor in 2014.

Melvin issued a bulletin earlier this week announcing that he'd formed an exploratory committee to seek the governor's office and would be barnstorming the state to offer his "bold vision" to voters.

"We have been blessed with some hard-working reform-minded legislatures during my time here, but we have failed to make the kind of progress that the people of Arizona deserve because too many elected officials are content to think small and act small," Melvin said in a prepared statement.

Melvin, who lives in Pinal County's SaddleBrooke, rose up in politics by attacking Republican opponents Toni Hellon and Pete Hershberger as lacking in true Republican values. So one of the more amusing twists to Melvin's political career has been the way that his embrace of various nanny-state initiatives (such as texting-while-driving bills) and his support for programs that pick winners and losers in the marketplace (such as his support for film-industry tax credits) have some on the Libertarian right dismissing him as a RINO.

Melvin told reporters on Monday, April 22, that he was planning on using the state's Clean Elections system to fund his campaign—which is just another example of his willingness to embrace socialism as long as it benefits him. Provided that he can get $5 contributions from 5,000 Arizonans, Melvin will be eligible for $753,616 for his primary campaign.

We'll give Melvin this much: He has a better shot of winning the governor's office than fellow Republican Andrew Thomas, whose politically motivated prosecutions as Maricopa County attorney led to his disbarment.

Thomas has been among those who are considering a campaign for governor. A few other Republicans with more realistic odds in their favor include Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett; Arizona Treasurer Doug Ducey; former GoDaddy.com general counsel Christine Jones; former Tempe mayor Hugh Hallman; Mesa Mayor Scott Smith; and former U.S. Senate candidate Wil Cardon.

On the Democratic side, Fred Duval—who has served in Bruce Babbitt's gubernatorial administration in the 1980s, the Clinton White House in the 1990s and on the Arizona Board of Regents more recently—was expected to make his formal announcement that he was running for governor on Wednesday, April 24.

Duval established an exploratory committee earlier this year and has been locking up endorsements ever since in an effort to nail down as much support as possible before anyone else gets in the race. (The only other serious Democrat considering a 1014 campaign is state Rep. Chad Campbell, but the state's resign-to-run law and the legislative session are hampering his ability to do much organizing.)

It's a crowded pool that probably won't include Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne, who has evidently given up his gubernatorial ambitions in the wake of allegations that he was involved in a fender-bender while on a hot lunch date with a woman who was not his wife.

Horne has filed to run once again for attorney general. He could face a primary from Republican Mark Brnovich, who has worked as a federal and state prosecutor, as well as an attorney for the Goldwater Institute and as an administrator for the Corrections Corporation of America.

Democrat Felecia Rotellini, who narrowly lost to Horne in 2010, continued to gather support for her 2014 AG campaign last week, picking up endorsements from Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWall, Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik and several other former and current county attorneys and sheriffs, as well as former congressmen Harry Mitchell and Sam Coppersmith.

Rotellini also landed endorsements from a gaggle of Democratic state lawmakers that included Tucson-area Sens. Linda Lopez and Steve Farley and Reps. Bruce Wheeler, Victoria Steele, Stefanie Mach, Rosanna Gabaldon and Andrea Dalessandro.


TOTALED RECALL BILL

Speaking of Al Melvin: He was one of 10 Republicans to vote last week in favor of one of the stranger election-reform bills at the Arizona Legislature.

HB 2282 would change the state's recall system. As it now stands, when voters force an elected official to face a recall election, there's no primary. The elected official faces all challengers in a single special election.

The system led to the end of Republican Russell Pearce's run at the Arizona Legislature. In 2011, voters forced a recall election in which Pearce faced only one challenger: A somewhat more moderate Republican named Jerry Lewis. Lewis was able to win over all the people who hated Pearce on the left, as well as those who were weary of his divisive politics on the right. Pearce got only 45 percent of the vote.

You can make an argument that Pearce was already wearing out his welcome with his Mesa voters, given that he subsequently lost a standard primary in 2012 in a slightly different legislative district.

Nonetheless, Pearce's supporters decided that it was unfair that there was no primary system that would have allowed only Republican voters (and any independents who cared enough to cast a ballot) to decide the Pearce's fate before the rest of the electorate got a shot at him.

HB 2282 was designed to change that system by establishing a primary and a general election in the recall process. But the Arizona Constitution states that in a recall election, the politician being recalled has to face his challengers in a general election. That creates a bit of a wrinkle: What if the elected official facing a recall loses his primary election? He wouldn't then have the chance to face off against his challenger in the recall's general election.

Here's how lawmakers tried to work around that: They proposed an amendment saying that even if the politician being recalled lost his primary election, he'd still advance to the general. Yes, you read that right: There were lawmakers who proposed allowing the loser of a primary to advance alongside the winner.

The bill got 10 votes in favor and 18 opposed on Thursday, April 18, but a motion to reconsider the bill passed on Monday, April 22.


BARBER BUCKS

The latest FEC reports show that Congressman Ron Barber is continuing to chase after those campaign dollars.

Barber reported raising $297,000 in the first quarter of 2013. Combined with what he had left over from last year, Barber had nearly $328K in the bank as of March 31.

The aggressive fundraising is a signal that Barber, who soundly beat Republican Jesse Kelly in a spring special election to finish the term of Gabby Giffords and then narrowly defeated Republican Martha McSally in November, is ready to go another round in 2014.

The big unanswered question is whether McSally will take another run at the office. She held a lead over Barber for a few days following the election until all the early ballots were counted and ended up losing the race by 2,454 votes.

McSally hasn't signaled her 2014 intentions yet. We hear some folks say she'll run; others say she's laying the groundwork for a run for McCain's Senate seat, should he not seek reelection in 2016.

McSally hasn't opened up a 2014 campaign account yet, but she is raising a little bit of money using her 2012 campaign. She picked up a $4,383 contribution from the AZ Congressional Majority Fund and $1,000 from former New Mexico congresswoman Heather Ann Wilson. Combined with what she still had in the bank, McSally has just under $34,000 in the bank.

More by Jim Nintzel

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