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2 hopefuls face hurdles in crowded Arizona governor’s primary

PHOENIX — Disbarred former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas was
denied public campaign funding Friday for his bid to win the Republican
nomination for governor, and state Sen. Al Melvin said he may drop out of the
race because he’s far short of getting his own public financing.

The GOP primary race for the nomination would change substantially if Melvin
quits and Thomas fails to gather enough additional qualifying contributions to
win public funding. That would essentially leave five candidates to battle for
the chance to take on Democrat Fred DuVal in November’s general election.

The race is widely seen as a slug-fest between four front-runners: state
Treasurer Doug Ducey, former Go Daddy executive Christine Jones, former Mesa
Mayor Scott Smith and Secretary of State Ken Bennett. Bennett is the only one of
those running with public funding and has received nearly $754,000. Former U.S.
Rep. Frank Riggs, Thomas and Melvin round out the field.

Melvin is far short of the 4,500 qualifying $5 contributions needed to receive
more than $750,000 in funding from the Citizens Clean Elections Commission. He
said he will consider dropping out next week if that doesn’t change.

The state’s voluntary public funding system requires candidates to collect a
certain number of small contributions to show support before they receive public

Constantin Querard, a Melvin campaign consultant, said Friday that Melvin
doesn’t want to be a spoiler for another conservative candidate if he has no
chance to win. He must act by June 27 for his name to be removed from the Aug.
26 primary ballot.

“He’s on pace right now to get his money by the middle of August,” Querard
said. “That’s too late to win.”

Also Friday, the secretary of state’s office said Thomas fell 113 $5
contributions short of the 4,500 needed to win public funding. Thomas would have
been awarded more than $750,000 if he had enough contributions.

County recorders checked all the contributions Thomas submitted, and threw out
272 of them, leaving him short. He can submit additional qualifying
contributions to meet the threshold before the primary.

Thomas is running after losing his law license in 2012 because of failed
corruption investigations that he and county Sheriff Joe Arpaio launched against
political opponents. He’s consistently said he was the victim of a political
witch hunt and didn’t do anything wrong.

On Friday, the former prosecutor appealed to supporters in a Facebook post to

“We have continued to collect $5 contributions since our filing last month,
and so we already have many in hand,” Thomas wrote. “We will continue our
collection efforts and anticipate filing our supplemental amount in the near

Thomas responded to a request for comment by referring to his Facebook post.


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