PHOENIX -- Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett on Thursday became the first candidate for governor to officially file papers to appear on the primary ballot.
Bennett was able to file before the official opening at the end of the month because he's running under the state's clean elections law. He filed more than 8,600 nominating signatures, well in excess of the 5,600 required, and more than 5,400 contributions of $5 each to qualify for clean elections funding. That will give him more than $750,000 for the primary race.
Bennett will face several announced Republican candidates with deep pockets or strong fundraising prowess who are foregoing public financing. They include Mesa Mayor Scott Smith, state Treasurer Doug Ducey and former GoDaddy legal counsel Christine Jones. State Sen. Al Melvin and former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas plan to run with public financing. Former California congressman Frank Riggs has said he plans to run privately.
Fred DuVal is the only well-known Democratic candidate and plans to run with private financing.
``I don't think money gets a person's vote,'' Bennett said after filing the petitions and other documents at his own office. ``I think experience, integrity and a vision is what's going to matter to the people of Arizona. I don't think they're going to be swayed by the number of mail pieces or TV ads or things that they see from me or other candidates.''
Bennett, 54, has been secretary of state since 2009 and served in the Senate from 1999-2007. He was Senate president from 2003-2007. He has also served on the Prescott City Council and ran a family oil company in Prescott for many years. He is married with three children and now lives in Phoenix.