Marco Lopez, an international business consultant, former Nogales mayor and Napolitano administration aide, and advisor to Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim, announced his candidacy for governor, kicking off the race for the state’s highest office in 2022.
Lopez is one of several candidates expected to vie for the Democratic nomination in next year’s gubernatorial contest, and is the first notable candidate to enter the race from either major party. Gov. Doug Ducey is termed out, leaving a wide open race for governor.
Lopez came to prominence in 2001 when he was elected mayor of Nogales at age 22, making him one of the youngest people to ever serve as a mayor in the United States. He served Gov. Janet Napolitano as executive director of the Arizona-Mexico Commission and later as a policy advisor on Latin America and foreign trade. Napolitano later appointed him director of the Arizona Department of Commerce.
After President Barack Obama appointed Napolitano as his homeland security secretary, Napolitano appointed Lopez as chief of staff of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Lopez in 2011 founded Intermestic Partners, an international business advisory firm, and is also president and CEO of International Business Solutions, another business advisory firm. In addition, Lopez is a senior advisor to Slim, formerly the world’s richest person and currently the fifth richest.
In his announcement video on Tuesday morning, Lopez touted his “uniquely Arizonan” story and roots in Nogales, where his parents came seeking a better life. His father was a plumber who rose to become a general contractor, and his mother owned a small business making candy and piñatas.
“My parents taught us that hard work and education opens the door to opportunity. And it did for me. At 22, I became the mayor of the city of Nogales, then headed up Arizona’s department for jobs and trade, and worked for President Obama, helping run the country’s largest law enforcement agency and tackling crises head on,” he said.
Lopez said he creates jobs and opportunity now, helping to bring high-speed internet to low-income families and bringing a cargo hub to Mesa, which he said helps American companies export their products to Mexico and will create 15,000 jobs.
Lopez said his company also stepped up during the COVID-19 crisis when the government failed us, donating personal protective equipment to frontline workers.
“Let’s face it: State leaders failed us as the coronavirus cost us lives and hammered our economy,” Lopez said as the video showed an image of Ducey meeting with former President Donald Trump. “And our legislature is run by extremists promoting bizarre conspiracy theories instead of actually getting things done for you, the people. For too many, the promise of Arizona isn’t being met.”
Lopez said he wants to bring “bold leadership that transforms our education system” to the governor’s office, including apprenticeship and certification programs, implement a “make it in Arizona plan” that brings new manufacturing and technology jobs to the state, and ensure that all Arizonans have access to affordable health care.
Next year’s gubernatorial primary could be the most competitive that Arizona Democrats have seen in years. Secretary of State Katie Hobbs and Congressman Greg Stanton are also viewed as potential contenders for the Democratic nomination.
***UPDATE: This story has been updated to include additional information from Lopez’s announcement video.