PHOENIX — Recent changes to Arizona’s “resign-to-run” law mean elected
officials can now speak publicly about running for another position, and
Secretary of State Ken Bennett has taken advantage of the revisions to say he
will be a Republican candidate for governor.
Before the changes that went into effect last week, such a statement would have
required Bennett to step down.
Still, his political intentions set off a flurry of social media traffic
Thursday when a small eastern Arizona newspaper reported them and added that
Bennett would resign when he files formal nomination papers in the spring.
Spokesman Matt Roberts shot down that part of the report, saying Bennett plans
to serve out his term, which ends two months after the gubernatorial election in
Bennett will, however, seek the state’s top office. “He said he intends to be,
and will be, a candidate in next year’s gubernatorial election,” Roberts said.
The Eastern Arizona Courier reported Bennett’s comments from a Constitution Day
event in Thatcher on Tuesday.
The Legislature passed changes this year to the resign-to-run law, which was
first approved by voters in 1980. They were designed to lift restrictions that
required officials to dance around their ambitions, even when it was obvious
they intended to run for a different seat.
Under the old rules, sitting politicians could create “exploratory
committees” and raise money, but they would have to resign if they announced
their candidacy or filed nomination paperwork. An exception was made for elected
officials in the final year of their term.
Bennett isn’t the only official to say he’s seeking a different office after
“exploring” a race for months.
Rep. Justin Pierce, a Republican who has been considering a run for Secretary
of State in 2014, told The Associated Press he’s made his decision.
“I’ll be a candidate for Secretary of State,” he said.
Others Republicans who currently are in office and are seeking other offices
include Sen. Al Melvin and Treasurer Doug Ducey, both looking at the governor’s
race, and Sen. Michele Reagan, who like Pierce is looking at Secretary of State.
Republican Rep. John Kavanagh sponsored House Bill 2157.
“Candidates and elected officials who are running for office can now tell
voters the truth and not have to hide behind a charade of doubletalk when
they’ve already filed an exploratory committee, collected signatures and
collected donations,” Kavanagh said Thursday. “This just takes away the
legally imposed deception.”