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Smith sets event with Brewer, endorsement expected

LISTEN: HighGround VP Accounts and Strategy Paul Bentz

PHOENIX — Former Mesa Mayor Scott Smith is expected to get Gov. Jan
Brewer’s endorsement Thursday in the Republican governor’s race primary.

Brewer and Smith are scheduled to host a “special event” on Thursday. Her decision to finally choose among the six Republicans vying to
replace her comes after weeks of indecision by the governor and nearly a week
after ballots were sent to voters.

Brewer’s endorsement would breathe new life into Smith’s campaign. A poll conducted late last month showed him with 16 percent of the support. He slightly trailed Christine Jones, the current favorite, and Arizona Treasurer Doug Ducey. Others in the race include Secretary of State Ken Bennett,
former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas and former U.S. Rep. Frank Riggs.

However, the poll said 50 percent of Republican voters had not decided who they would back in the Aug. 26 primary.

Political expert Michael O’Neil said it’s still anybody’s race, but Brewer’s support would definitely give Smith, who trails Jones and Ducey in fundraising, the boost in the polls.

“This is absolutely the right moment for somebody to break out and I think the gubernatorial endorsement may be a catalyst of that,” he said.

O’Neil said he expects Ducey and Jones to start attacking Smith should the endorsement become official.

The likelihood of attack ads will increase considering Brewer’s endorsement is worth about 10 points in the polls, HighGround Vice President of Accounts and Strategy Paul Bentz told News/Talk 92.3 KTAR’s Rob & Karie on Wednesday.

“The last survey we did had her about a 65 percent approval rating among Republicans,” he said. “I think that would definitely be a game-changer.”

Longtime Brewer political adviser Chuck Coughlin strongly supports Smith and
had been urging the governor to back his candidacy.

The event will be held at the new Cubs Park in Mesa, a facility whose acquisition and construction was championed by Smith during his time as mayor.

KTAR’s Cooper Rummell and the Associated Press contributed to this report.