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Updated Aug 18, 2014 - 6:31 pm

Arizona GOP governor’s primary hot in final week

PHOENIX — The race for the Republican nomination in Arizona’s governor’s
race is down to a final week of furious campaigning and even more furious
efforts to court voters with television ads.

On Monday, GoDaddy founder Bob Parsons wrote a $1 million check to a political
action committee backing his former corporate lawyer, gubernatorial candidate
Christine Jones, and Gov. Jan Brewer joined former Mesa Mayor Scott Smith in
Prescott for an event backing his candidacy. The day was to wrap up with a
candidate forum in northern Arizona attended by four of the six GOP candidates _
state Treasurer Doug Ducey and former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas did
not plan to attend.

Parsons’ $1 million check to the Better Leaders for Arizona PAC brings his
donations to the group to more than $2 million. He said he was putting his money
in the race to counter negative ads targeting Jones that he believes are coming
from Ducey backers.

“I could have very well went the dark money route through a couple of LLCs,
and never been disclosed that I was involved in it,” Parsons said in an
interview. “She has got dark money that I believe that can be traced to all the
lobbyists supporting Mr. Ducey just attacking her left, right and center. So
what I’m doing is, I’m stepping up and helping her fight back.”

Ducey spokeswoman Melissa DeLaney said Parsons’ claims were “both unwarranted
and false.”

Others in the race include Secretary of State Ken Bennett, who continues to
make the most of the $754,000 in Clean Elections funding he’s received. Despite
being outspent by large amounts by Jones Ducey, Bennett spokesman Matt Roberts
said Monday his candidate is still very much in contention. The campaign is
relaunching televisions ads this week and doing a large radio buy as well.

“The only poll that matters as we know is the one that occurs next Tuesday,
and we think we’re in the discussion,” Roberts said.

Former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas also is doling out his Clean
Elections funding on campaign ads, while former U.S. Congressman Frank Riggs
continues to hold daily events.

Smith has scheduled a press event for Tuesday with Brewer and Republican mayors
from across the state as he tries to capitalize on what his backers say is his
momentum as he seeks to best Ducey, the perceived front-runner. The event was
announced as an outside group began running ads targeting Smith and a Mesa man
filed a complaint with the secretary of state’s office alleging Smith failed to
note trips he took as mayor on his financial disclosure reports.

Smith spokesman Drew Sexton said the trips were paid for by the U.S. Conference
of Mayors as part of his official duties as the group’s president and were not
gifts.

In a move some saw as a sign that Ducey thinks he’s ahead of the pack, he’s not
attending the final two candidate forums. In addition to Monday’s event in
Flagstaff, the Arizona League of Cities and Towns is hosting a forum in Phoenix
featuring Democratic candidate Fred DuVal and all the Republicans in the race
except Ducey. DeLaney dismissed such speculation, saying he’s had other events
planned for some time.

But Smith’s backers think he’s in the hunt. And Parsons pointed to a $758,000
check Jones wrote to her own campaign last week as a sign that she thinks she’s
in the hunt as well.

“And I know Christine Jones well enough to know that if she didn’t think she
could win this thing, she wouldn’t be doing that,” Parsons said.

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