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Updated Apr 25, 2013 - 5:00 am

Strategist: Arizona governor race to be political theater

PHOENIX — The 2014 race for the next governor of Arizona will be great political theater, a Valley political strategist said.

“This is front row seat stuff. I’m looking forward to it,” said Mike O’Neil.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer isn’t ruling out a bid for what would essentially be a third term, because she believes her first two years do not count after Janet Napolitano left to become Secretary of Homeland Security.

Stan Barnes with Copperstate Consulting said he doesn’t believe Brewer can run next year.

“I don’t believe she can,” he said. “Most attorneys don’t believe she can but I wouldn’t blame her for wanting to test that theory.”

O’Neil said that, if Brewer drops her effort to run, an announcement will have to come sooner rather than later.

“I believe the GOP will tell the governor that, beyond a certain point, what it may do is inhibit the actions of other viable candidates,” he said. “People like Mesa Mayor Scott Smith or Secretary of State Ken Bennett. She can play this for another six to eight months but, by the end of the year, I think the pressure on her will intensify.”

Former Tempe Mayor Hugh Hallman, Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett, State Sen. Al Melvin have announced intentions to run on the GOP ticket. Others who are being mentioned as possible candidates are Republican Mesa Mayor Scott Smith, Republican State Treasurer Doug Ducey and Democratic House Leader Chad Campbell.

Fred DuVal was the first Democrat to officially announce a 2014 run.

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