By Andrew Oxford
Former Republican congressman Matt Salmon announced Wednesday that he is running for governor, launching a campaign for the office he nearly won two decades ago.
Salmon enters a crowded race for the Republican nomination to succeed Doug Ducey when he finishes his second term.
In announcing his bid for governor in 2022, Salmon played up his deep connection to the state, which has included a decades-long career in Arizona’s conservative politics.
“Here’s where I stand. I’m 100% pro life. I was A rated by the NRA. And I believe in strong borders and an Arizona-first agenda,” Salmon said in a video launching his campaign. “But today, the Arizona values we cherish, they’re under attack from Washington, from liberals here at home. Open borders and closed classrooms. Crushing tax hikes and socialism. Censorship. Cancel culture. Radical Democrats are pushing the most far-left agenda in our lifetime. We can’t allow liberal politicians to turn Arizona into California.”
In his campaign announcement, Salmon listed a series of issues he is likely to make central to his pitch to voters, including the border and cutting taxes. He mentioned “expanding school choice” and preparing students for the workforce as Arizona grapples with one of the country’s lowest levels of educational attainment among people aged 25-34.
Salmon also called for “strengthening voter ID” and “banning ballot harvesting.” The latter already is banned but may become a prominent issue in Arizona politics again soon as the U.S. Supreme Court considers a legal challenge to that law from Democrats who argue it disproportionately affects voters of color and was enacted with discriminatory intent.
Matt Salmon’s history in Arizona politics
The campaign vaults Salmon back into the spotlight of Arizona politics, where he has been off and on for decades.
A graduate of Mesa High School, Salmon has a bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University and a master’s degree in public administration from Brigham Young University.
Salmon’s political career began with two terms in the Arizona Senate, starting in 1991.
He went on to run for Congress in 1994, winning a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives during the storied Republican Revolution.
Salmon clashed with party leaders, helping topple then-Speaker Newt Gingrich in 1997 and kept his word not to run for more than three terms at the time. He left office after 2000 and ran for governor in 2002.
That year, Salmon campaigned on cutting taxes and restricting abortion rights.
He ended up losing to Democrat Janet Napolitano by less than 12,000 votes.
The former congressman became a lobbyist, working for clients ranging from General Motors to the Electronic Cigarette Association. He also headed up the state GOP.
Salmon ran for Congress again in 2012 and won, serving two more terms.
He went on to become a lobbyist for Arizona State University.
Who is running for Arizona governor?
Salmon joins a growing list of candidates for the Republican primary.
State Treasurer Kimberly Yee is running after having run a previous statewide campaign. Karrin Taylor Robson, a member of the Arizona Board of Regents, is running, too. And former Fox 10 news anchor Kari Lake also jumped into the race.
Meanwhile, Secretary of State Katie Hobbs is seeking the Democratic nomination for governor. Her bid got national attention as she has gained prominence defending Arizona’s election system amid the Senate’s ongoing audit of Maricopa County ballots and a push to throw out the presidential vote.
Former Nogales mayor and Obama administration customs official Marco Lopez is seeking the nomination, too.
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