Democrat Aaron Lieberman suspends campaign for Arizona governor

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Aaron Lieberman, the former state representative who resigned his seat to run for the Democratic nomination for governor of Arizona, announced on Friday that he was suspending his campaign.

Lieberman thanked his supporters in a statement and said he remains confident he has the skills and experience to improve Arizona as governor.

“While that confidence remains, it is clear to me that there is simply no realistic path to this race this year, and I owe it to all of the people who have so generously supported our campaign to be honest with they on the way forward would look like,” the statement read.

“Electing a Democratic Governor and ensuring that Kari Lake does not come near the Governor’s office will be one of my top priorities over the next few months. For every single person who has supported this campaign, in so many different ways, I will be eternally grateful.”

Lake, a former Fox 10 news anchor, is a top Republican candidate who believes the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump.

Lieberman presented himself as a problem solver who would set aside the state’s divisive political climate and work across the aisle to tackle the state’s pressing problems, just as he has said he had done so while serving in the Legislative Assembly.

Twice elected to the state House of Representatives, Lieberman resigned from his seat 11 months ago to launch his campaign for the state’s highest office. Voters first picked him in 2018 to represent Legislative District 28, representing Paradise Valley and parts of north-central Phoenix, ousting Republican Rep. Maria Syms.

In his bid for governor, Lieberman touted his background in education, an issue of utmost importance to Arizonans. Lieberman briefly worked as a Head Start teacher before founding Jumpstart, a nonprofit organization that provides programs for preschoolers, and later leading Acelero Learning, a nationwide for-profit Head Start program.

Lieberman entered the gubernatorial race last June knowing he would face two formidable challengers who had already announced their campaigns. Those candidates, Secretary of State Katie Hobbs and former Mayor of Nogales Marco López, remain in the running.

Hobbs, a Democrat who served multiple terms in the Legislative Assembly before being elected secretary of state in 2018, has built a campaign — and a steady schedule of national and high-profile appearances — to defend the 2020 election from the US. ‘State.

López, the first person from either party to officially announce he would run for governor, brings a long history to Democratic politics in Arizona, which he first entered in as mayor of Nogales in his early twenties. He later served in the Napolitano and Obama administrations, handling the state’s trade relations with Mexico and immigration enforcement, respectively.

López praised Lieberman’s run in a statement on Friday, while pursuing a veiled line of attack against Hobbs. Both López and Lieberman have criticized her for missing campaign events in recent weeks.

“I thank Aaron for sharing his story and his vision for this state, and for showing up for Democrats across Arizona at the various events we attended together,” López said. “Aaron was adamant that we need a governor who puts education and our working families first; a governor who is not afraid to speak directly to voters and speak out against hate and discrimination.”

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Lieberman had raised just over $1.4 million for his candidacy, a big gain from previous elections but not enough to rival the main Democratic challenger, Hobbs. Hobbs had raised more than $3.6 million for his campaign by the end of March, the last time candidates were required to publicly disclose their finances.

At the time, Lieberman had about $750,000 in the bank. A month later, he paid $500,000 for his first television ad, titled “Dumpster fire,” in which Lieberman compared state politics to burning trash.

In that ad, he targeted Hobbs — who in 2015 participated in the firing of a black aide who later won two discrimination verdicts against the state Senate — and Trump, backed by Lake, as evidence of the need for a stabilizing force in politics.

Arizonans will choose their party’s nominee in the Aug. 2 primary, which will face one of five Republican candidates vying for their party’s ticket in November. Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, a Republican, cannot run again due to term limits and leaves office in early January 2023.

In addition to Lake, GOP candidates include developer and former Board of Regents member Karrin Taylor Robson; former Congressman Matt Salmon; Scott Neely, owner of a concrete company; and former businesswoman Paola Tulliani Zen.

Contact reporter Stacey Barchenger at [email protected] or 480-416-5669. Follow her on Twitter @sbarchenger.

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