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Matt Salmon exits guv race, leaving Kari Lake and Karrin Taylor Robson as top GOP contenders

By: - June 28, 2022 1:29 pm

Photo by Gage Skidmore | Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

Republican Matt Salmon’s gubernatorial campaign never caught fire like he hoped, and the former congressman on Tuesday announced that he was exiting the race because it had become clear there was no way he could win the GOP nomination in the August primary.

“Unfortunately, numbers are numbers, and it has become clear to me that the path to a first-place victory is no longer a realistic possibility. Republican primary voters deserve more than having their votes split on August 2nd, and so I am leaving this race for the same reason that I entered it: Because it is what’s best for the people of Arizona,” Salmon said in a written statement.

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Salmon’s departure comes eight days before early voting begins for the Aug. 2 primary election — and several weeks after the deadline for candidates to withdraw from the election before ballots are printed. That means Arizona Republican primary voters will see Salmon’s name on the ballot. Any votes that are cast for him will be discarded.

Throughout the campaign, Salmon consistently polled in third place among GOP candidates, trailing front-runner Kari Lake and developer Karrin Taylor Robson. This was Salmon’s second bid for governor: In 2002, he was the Republican nominee for the post, but he lost to Democrat Janet Napolitano by fewer than 12,000 votes out of 1.2 million cast.

Salmon served as a state legislator in the early 1990s before being elected to Congress in 1994 as part of the Republican wave led by Newt Gingrich. He represented a Mesa-centric district until retiring in 2000, after which he returned to Arizona and became a lobbyist; he also spent several years as chairman of the Arizona Republican Party. In 2012, he was again elected to Congress, and he served two terms.

Robson praised Salmon for running an “honorable” campaign.

“Arizona faces big challenges, and I have no doubt Matt will continue to find ways to serve this state he loves,” she said in a written statement.

Lake had not issued a public statement when this story was published.

Salmon did not immediately endorse either of his opponents.

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Jim Small
Jim Small

Jim Small is a native Arizonan and has covered state government, policy and politics since 2004, with a focus on investigative and in-depth policy reporting, first as a reporter for the Arizona Capitol Times, then as editor of the paper and its prestigious sister publications, the Yellow Sheet Report and Arizona Legislative Report. Under his guidance, the Capitol Times won numerous state, regional and national awards for its accountability journalism and probing investigations into state government operations.

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