PHOENIX — The field of Republicans who want to be governor got more crowded Wednesday with the entry of former California Congressman Frank Riggs.
Riggs is citing his experience in Washington, saying that trumps anything offered by any of the seven others in the race. The Scottsdale resident said he also has significant private sector experience, including running a nonprofit organization that helps charter schools get money for construction.
Riggs, 63, is far from a well-known name in GOP circles.
He dipped his toe into Arizona politics when he weighed going up against incumbent Democratic Gov. Janet Napolitano. But that plan faded quickly when Riggs, who relocated to Arizona in 2002, realized he could not meet the constitutional requirement to be a state resident for at least five years.
But Riggs, who said he intends to run with private funding, said he believes he can differentiate himself from everyone else in the race.
He already is taking shots at some of the presumed front-runners, including Secretary of State Ken Bennett and Treasurer Doug Ducey, saying they did not object while incumbent Jan Brewer dealt with the state’s budget deficit through what he called “smoke and mirrors,’’ including mortgaging off many state buildings such as the House and Senate.
Further, he said, “I wouldn’t want to be in a position to try to explain why I remained silent when the current governor and her administration were embracing Obamacare and Medicaid expansion.’’
And Riggs said he was the primary sponsor of the 1998 Charter School Expansion Act that provided federal startup funds to those schools.
Besides Bennett and Ducey, others in the race are Mesa Mayor Scott Smith; Christine Jones, the former general counsel to Web-hosting giant GoDaddy; state Sen. Al Melvin; former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas; and John Molina, former chief executive officer for the Phoenix Indian Medical Center.
Riggs represented a district in northern California from 1991 through 1993 before being defeated by a Democratic challenger. He won reelection in 1995 and again in 1997 but then failed in a bid to run for U.S. Senate.