by Jim Nintzel
Republican gubernatorial candidates are responding to the news that fellow GOP candidate John Munger is dropping out of the race because it appears that Gov. Jan Brewer and state Treasurer Dean Martin will have more than $2 million in Clean Elections funds to match the spending by Buz Mills, a shooting-range owner who has put more than $2 million into his campaign.
Martin was succinct and full of praise:
I have always admired John Munger for his steadfast commitment to our great state. John and I agree on so many issues; that’s why I applaud him for being willing to stand up for fiscal discipline, and for working so hard to get Arizona back on track. I know this decision must have been a difficult one, but I want to personally thank him for his service.
Meanwhile, Mills took an opportunity to complain about the Clean Elections program that is allowing his fellow candidates to spend as much as he is:
John Munger’s candidacy is a casualty of this state’s Clean Elections law which gives an unfair advantage to candidates who use government money to bankroll their campaigns. John and I were the only major candidates in this race
who oppose Clean Elections and are principled enough to reject government campaign money at a time when the state is broke.
As a businessman I can tell you that competition is a good thing, because it gives the public more choices. Government intervention stifles competition and Mr. Munger’s decision to end his candidacy is an example of that.
As the only major candidate in the governor’s race who rejects accepting government money to finance a campaign, I wish Mr. Munger well and salute his principled stance on Clean Elections.
While we're sure that Munger appreciates the kind words, it was actually Buzz entering the race with $2 million and inflating the cost of running that did Munger in.
And let's not forget: Just last month, Mills dismissed Munger's "flailing campaign."
Mills made his comment after Munger said that Mills should drop out of the race after news broke about Mills being sued by a former business partner who said that Mills had fraudulently cheated him out of a portion of the profits from the sale of their company.
At that point, Munger said: “Frankly, the Republican Party cannot have a candidate who is standing for nomination who can’t win the general. I can’t see any way he can win the general with this kind of thing on his record. (Democrat) Terry Goddard, as a law-enforcement officer, would just tear him apart.”
Not surprisingly, Mills ignored Munger's call and stayed in the race. Looks like there wasn't room for both of them.
Given that Munger has attacked Brewer for raising taxes and attacked Mills for his lack of character, we suppose that Martin must be the front-runner for Munger's endorsement.
But Munger was most recently polling at 5 percent or below in recent polls from both the right and the left. Does he have much in the way of supporters to deliver?