Matt Salmon is running again. He began his political career in the state senate in 1990. Then running for congress from a Mesa-based district, he was elected to three 2-year terms, retiring to honor his term-limit pledge. That opened the door for the aptly named Jeff Flake, a McCain clone, to succeed him. In 2002 Salmon ran for governor, losing to democrat Janet Napolitano. She then left the governor’s post mid-term to join Barack Obama’s administration.
Next in line of succession* was Secretary of State Jan Brewer, which is why the mundane post is so popular.
Salmon’s history of commitment isn’t much better than Napolitano‘s. Salmon was a U.S. Rep. from 1995 to 2001 and again from 2013 until 2017, not a difficult task, running from the East Valley, where his roots run deep. The governor’s race is statewide. He lost it previously. As a member of the LDS church, which advocates healthy lifestyles and disparages smoking, Matt Salmon was President of the Electronic Cigarette Association, where he peddled vaping to young people.
In the intervening years, he was reported to have earned $336,090 yearly as of 2018, as the chief lobbyist for Arizona State University, notably supporting the China-financed Confucius Institute. This Jan. 2022 list shows a much slimmer list of participants and ASU appears to have ditched its program, which likely accounts for unemployed Salmon running again.
“Matt Salmon still chasing AZ governor dream…when not backing China,” provides additional background.
Now, as he once again aspires to be Arizona governor, he has a unique campaign tactic. It includes incessantly emailing lists of his supporters, including many sporting the titles “retired“ and “former.” There is also a long list titled, “Women for Salmon Coalition,” whose white letters on a red background appearance resembles the nefarious “Republicans for Napolitano.” The similarity stops there. Salmon’s women’s coalition is more likely to be drawn from a Relief Society list.
Salmon’s time has come and gone. His political aspirations have hit a roadblock. He might have had better luck running for secretary of state, which has frequently provided a direct route to the governor‘s office:
*In 1977 Wesley Bolin, Arizona’s longest serving secretary of state with 28 consecutive years on the job, succeeded Gov. Raul Castro who left midterm to become ambassador to Argentina. Bolin served less than five months before suffering a fatal heart attack. The next in line of succession was Attorney General Bruce Babbitt, later elected to two full terms.
In 1988 Secretary of State Rose Mofford succeeded impeached Gov. Evan Mecham. Jane Hull followed the same route in 1997 after Gov. Fife Symington resigned due to a felony conviction — which was later reversed. Gov. Jan Brewer was secretary of state when she completed Janet Napolitano’s term in 2009 when she resigned to join the Obama administration.
In Arizona, the secretary of state’s office provides a never-ending, high stakes political version of musical chairs.