Unable to get elected governor in three tries, Democrat Terry Goddard is now hoping to get to the state's No. 2 spot.
Goddard said he believes his background, including time as attorney general, makes him an ideal contender for secretary of state. The most visible duties of that person is to be the state's chief elections officer.
He pointed to several court cases which are likely to void key portions of the state election laws, particularly as they relate to requirements financial disclosure from individuals and groups trying to influence who gets elected. Goddard said that will require whoever is secretary of state to propose ways of fixing those laws to make them legally enforceable.
Goddard also said he believes he can use the “bully pulpit” powers of the office to get the Republican-controlled Legislature to enact new limits on other forms of “dark money,” spending by unidentified groups, that now is finding its way into Arizona races.
His first battle could be with fellow Democrat Leah Landrum Taylor who, until recently was the Senate minority leader. She already has announced her interest in running for the open seat, with incumbent Republican Ken Bennett trying for governor.
Landrum Taylor said she has no intention of backing out, saying she is "an independent common-sense problem solver" who answers only to Arizona families and businesses.
Several Republicans already have thrown their own names into the ring.
This will be the first statewide campaign for the 66-year-old Goddard since picking up just 42.5 percent of the vote in his 2010 bid to oust incumbent Gov. Jan Brewer.
Goddard also ran for governor in 1990 but was defeated in a runoff the following year by Republican Fife Symington. And a 1994 bid did not get him even that far, as he lost the Democratic primary to Eddie Basha who, in turn, also lost to Symington.
He did manage to get elected attorney general in 2002, serving there for eight years.
“Obviously, that still smarts,” Goddard said of his prior losses. “But I think there is an awful lot of good I can still do in the public sector.”
That issue of “dark money” and donor reporting promises to be a key issue in the 2014 campaign. State Sen. Michele Regan, also running for secretary of state, has promised to push for increased disclosure and has said she will use her current position in the Senate to take the first steps.
Changes in state law likely will be necessary.
A Maricopa County Superior Court judge already has voided one section of law which defines when a group is considered to be engaged in “express advocacy” and required to report, ruling the law is unconstitutionally vague. And a federal judge, with a different set of facts, reached a similar conclusion.
Those cases are on appeal.
Goddard also noted the court fights over what he called “voter suppression,” measures that Republicans who support the changes say are necessary to protect against fraud.
Despite his prior professed interest in becoming governor, Goddard said he does not see his bid for secretary of state as a stepping stone to the top office.
He acknowledged Arizona has a long history of governors dying, resigning or being forced from office, moves that automatically promote the secretary of state, but Goddard said he does not foresee that happening again.
As to yet another run for governor in 2018, Goddard called that “highly unlikely.”
Aside from Reagan, other Republicans in the running include Rep. Justin Pierce, former Sen. Jack Harper, and Mesa business owner Wil Cardon, who ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate last year against Jeff Flake.