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Gubernatorial hopefuls Aaron Lieberman and Marco Lopez announced strong fundraising numbers as they head into an election year in which both hope to pull off upsets against frontrunner Katie Hobbs in the Democratic primary.
Both candidates announced on Monday that they raised seven figures. Lopez, a former Nogales mayor, director of the Arizona Department of Commerce and chief of staff for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, said he’d raised more than $1 million, while former state Rep. Aaron Lieberman followed with an announcement that he raised $1.16 million.
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Hobbs, Arizona’s secretary of state, did not release her fundraising numbers, nor did any of the five major Republican candidates who are seeking the GOP nomination in the gubernatorial race. Candidates are not required to file their campaign finance reports, which will cover the entire calendar year 2021, until Jan. 15.
Both campaigns said fundraising spiked after a federal jury found that Talonya Adams, a Democratic staffer at the Arizona Senate whom Hobbs fired while serving as the chamber’s minority leader, was terminated for complaining about discriminatory pay. A separate jury in 2019 found that the Senate discriminated against Adams, a Black woman, by paying her less than most of her white, male colleagues. Adams specifically blames Hobbs for the firing.
Lieberman said more $350,000 of the money he raised in 2021 came in December. Lopez, too, said the last eight weeks of the year — following the Nov. 10 verdict against the Senate — was the strongest fundraising period of his campaign, though he didn’t provide any numbers.
Lopez poured $235,000 of his own money into his campaign, campaign manager Philip Stein told the Arizona Mirror, while Lieberman self-funded $150,000, according to campaign manager Miguel Medrano. If self-funding is factored out, Medrano said only one of the two candidates has actually raised $1 million in the race so far.
Lieberman’s campaign manager, Miguel Medrano, said in a press release that the $1.16 million he raised is a record-setting amount for a Democratic gubernatorial candidate in a non-election year. Lopez also raised more than any Democratic candidates for governor in prior election years.
The 2022 gubernatorial campaigns on both sides of the political aisle began earlier than most candidates in prior years, with Lopez launching his campaign in March, and Hobbs and Lieberman beginning their campaigns in June. According to online campaign finance records from the Secretary of State’s Office, the most a Democratic gubernatorial campaign had raised in the year before an election going back to 2002, the first year those records are available, was the $803,000 that Fred DuVal raised in 2013.
Arizona dramatically increased its campaign contribution limits in 2013, in advance of the 2014 gubernatorial election. Then-state Treasurer Doug Ducey, who was elected governor in 2014, became the first gubernatorial candidate in Arizona history to raise $1 million in the year before an election.
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