THATCHER — After testing the waters since 2011, Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett has made the plunge into the race to be Arizona’s next governor.
Bennett publicly announced his candidacy after speaking at a Constitution Day Assembly at Eastern Arizona College on Tuesday. He first formed an exploratory committee for the 2014 Arizona gubernatorial race in May 2011.
“I will be a candidate for governor in 2014,” Bennett said.
Bennett will continue to serve as Secretary of State and will officially file the necessary campaign paperwork in either March or April of 2014, he said. Under the previous “Resign to Run” law, he would have had to resign after making a formal announcement of his intentions, but House Bill 2157 modified the law so that officials only have to resign after they file the necessary paperwork to run. The bill was signed into law by Governor Jan Brewer on April 30.
Perhaps it was fitting that Bennett made the announcement after speaking about the United States Constitution. He previously said his interpretation of the Arizona State Constitution requires Brewer’s reign as governor to end in January 2015 due to the two-term limit imposed by voter mandate in 1992.
Brewer began her governorship in 2009 after then Governor Janet Napolitano resigned in January of that year to serve as Secretary of Homeland Security in President Barack Obama’s cabinet. Arizona does not have a Lieutenant Governor, and the Secretary of State is the first in the line of succession. Brewer was elected to continue as governor in 2010 and previously stated she didn’t believe her two years finishing Napolitano’s term counted toward the two-term limit. However, the State Constitution explicitly states that partial terms served count toward limits.
A representative of the Governor’s Office, identified only as Ashley, said Brewer’s intentions are unknown at this time.
“There hasn’t been any discussion regarding that in quite a while,” Ashley said. “I’m not sure what she’s planning on doing.”
However, Brewer’s political action committee received a $250,000 donation from billionaire Las Vegas hotelier Sheldon Adelson and his wife, Miriam, on Oct. 19, 2012, which prompted Arizona Capitol Media Services reporter Howard Fischer to suggest Brewer might have stashed some of the cash for a future run.
Bennett is also bound by the two-term limit and cannot run for re-election to the office of Secretary of State because he was appointed by Brewer to finish off her term in 2009 and, like Brewer, won election to a full term in 2010. Sharing his thoughts with local dignitaries, students and the community, Bennett appeared eager to move forward with the next phase of his political career with hopes of becoming Brewer’s replacement.
“I will be a candidate,” he said. “I’m running.”