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The Prescott Daily Courier | Prescott, Arizona

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4/26/2013 9:50:00 PM
Ex-Maricopa County attorney to run for governor

PHOENIX (AP) - Former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas, who was disbarred for failed corruption investigations that he and county Sheriff Joe Arpaio launched against political opponents, has entered Arizona's 2014 gubernatorial race, joining a growing list of candidate jostling to replace Republican Gov. Jan Brewer.

Some Republican leaders said Thomas would be a viable candidate who could resonate with hard-right primary voters, but it is unclear how he would perform in a general election, when Democrats and independents would likely take a harder stance on his legal woes and association with Arpaio, a divisive figure in local politics.

"He's coming into this political arena with a lot of baggage, of course," said Rodolfo Espino, a political science professor at Arizona State University. "The association with Sheriff Joe is something really hefty that is going to be impossible to run away from."

Thomas served as county attorney from 2005 until he resigned in 2010 to unsuccessfully run for Arizona attorney general. He is one of several Republicans looking to get ahead in the gubernatorial race, along with Sen. Al Melvin and Secretary of State Ken Bennett.

Democrat and former Arizona Board of Regents Chairman Fred DuVal, Republican and ex-Tempe Mayor Hugh Hallman and Americans Elect party candidate John Mealer have already formally filed to run.

"I am confident public surveys will show upon my filing that I am a leading candidate for governor," Thomas said in a statement sent to reporters Thursday. "I'll be focusing on the need to protect public safety, ensure border security, and fight corruption, among other issues."

Thomas was disbarred about a year ago after a disciplinary panel of the Arizona courts found his office wrongfully criminally charged two county officials and a judge to embarrass them. All three cases were dismissed after a judge ruled that Thomas prosecuted one of the officials for political gain and had a conflict of interest in the case. The panel also concluded that Thomas and a key deputy prosecutor violated criminal intimidation and perjury laws in knowingly bringing false bribery charges against the judge.

"His actions were seen by a lot of people as using his political office to carry out his conservative agenda and, unlike anyone else in politics, he had the power of bringing felony charges and arresting people and essentially ruining reputations," said Stephen Gerst, a law professor with the Phoenix School of Law and a former Maricopa County Superior Court judge. "It was a little scary for a lot of people."

Other county officials and judges who were at odds with Thomas and Arpaio also were investigated by the pair, but weren't charged with crimes.

"Voters will be urged to watch the video of my State Bar hearing and see for themselves how honest prosecutors are railroaded for fighting corruption in this state," Thomas said Thursday.

Thomas and Arpaio brought the criminal charges in December 2009 after becoming embroiled in a yearlong political feud with county officials. Thomas and Arpaio have defended the investigations, saying they were working to root out corruption in county government.

At one point, Thomas compared himself to Martin Luther King Jr. and Mohandas Gandhi, saying they were also great leaders jailed in their fight for their principles.

Keith Alexander, chairman of the Graham County Republican Party, said he was surprised by Thomas' gubernatorial run.

"There were a lot of people that were concerned that he was sidetracked with facing down people that disagreed with him rather than attending to the duties of the office," Alexander said.

As county attorney, Thomas was also known for confronting illegal immigration, an issue that has divided voters in recent years.

"It's a badge of honor for certain constituents, but keep in mind that Arizona is changing," Espino said. "That's not the top concern for many Arizona voters the way it used to be."

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Reader Comments

Posted: Thursday, October 03, 2013
Article comment by: Middle of the Road

That's right Tom Steele, Andrew Thomas isn't a crook, he's a Republican so he can do no wrong in your Bizarro world. You just prove your ignorance multiple times daily with every post.

Posted: Thursday, October 03, 2013
Article comment by: Candy Andy?

Wouldn't that be dandy?

Posted: Thursday, October 03, 2013
Article comment by: Ernie Pyle

Vote for this guy in the Republican Primary. He is the Democrat's best chance to regain the Governor's office. It would be the equivalent of having Gov. Perry become the Republican presidential nominee.

Posted: Thursday, October 03, 2013
Article comment by: Hooty Hoo

This dude is wasting his money and everybody's time. Governor? He's in the mode of Fife Symington, Evan Mecham, Raul Castro, The Beehive. Wait. This guy could win!

Posted: Thursday, October 03, 2013
Article comment by: John Mealer

I am an engineer... That's what I do. With my decades of being a businessman fighting the laws to run my business and hitting every obstacle, I know what big business and big labor have done against the Little Guy who is trying to compete against them. We MUST change this or USA manufacturing is dead!

Oh, wait... They've already succeeded in that with the Republican and Democrat pay-to-play scams. I can and will turn it around once I am in office and I can do it both for Arizona and at a national level. I explain how and why in Mealer Initiative 2014. A free download at my campaign website.

I will not go to office without 100% of Arizona fix under my arm. The time for vacant promises and flashy words are done.

JL Mealer (me) has reopened the Americans Elect of Arizona and I will become Arizona's next Governor. Mr.Ted Downing had also reopened (months prior to my committee) a variation of AE with his committee Arizona Americans Elect.

AE gave Arizona third party ballot access and this is a very valuable tool against the one party calling themselves Democrats and Republicans.

The big thing is, I will become Arizona's next [Exceeded 200-word limit]

Posted: Saturday, April 27, 2013
Article comment by: devon deWayne

I guess he figures the citizens of the whole state of Arizona are as dumb as the ones in Maricopa county who elected him and Arpaio.

I'm getting a sinking feeling here, now that I think of it.

Posted: Saturday, April 27, 2013
Article comment by: AH ARIZONA

(1) He filed all sorts of litigation against Uncle Joe's detractors.

(2) Every such case was thrown out by the courts.

(3) The former defendants are now in litigation with the County. The taxpayers will pay dearly for Joe and Andy's machinations, as they have for years.

(4) Andy was disbarred.

Don't dare to question what that does for Andy's electability. He is the PERFECT Arizona-style candidate.

And he just might win.

Posted: Saturday, April 27, 2013
Article comment by: You Get the Leadership You Deserve

Sounds like he's well suited for Arizona politics...

Posted: Saturday, April 27, 2013
Article comment by: Tom's Nemesis

What a hypocrite you are Tom!

Posted: Saturday, April 27, 2013
Article comment by: Carl Imparel

Go Andy, this State needs anyone in mind for the Cty Atty position here?

Posted: Saturday, April 27, 2013
Article comment by: Riddle me this

And to think: Some people will actually vote for this guy.

Posted: Saturday, April 27, 2013
Article comment by: Orren Staley

He will be elected by the voters.

He will then be impeached and removed from office.

That is Arizona's history and its future.

Posted: Saturday, April 27, 2013
Article comment by: Tom Steele

I feel Thomas was stepping on the toes of the "good ole boys" of Maricopa County and that includes the judicial boys who worked to have him disbarred. Like Sheriff Joe you make political enemies when your goals are for We the People".

Posted: Saturday, April 27, 2013
Article comment by: Listed for sale or trade

I think the first sentence says it all.

Posted: Saturday, April 27, 2013
Article comment by: Kat Dream Weaver

Wow another loser who wants to be Governor. He really has a lot of nerve after the AZ STATE BAR removed his Law License. ... This state needs a Governor who has strong moral ethics and a brain to go with it. Andrew Thomas is An unacceptable choice for this office!

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