Terry Goddard Wants to Be AG Again? Puh-lease

Goddard: Verging on the pathetic
Goddard: Verging on the pathetic

For Terry Goddard, it must be tough going from Mayor of Phoenix to state Attorney General to gubernatorial candidate to, um, Central Arizona Water Conservation District board member.

To be accurate, Terry Goddard has run for governor three times, hoping to emulate his pop Sam Pearson Goddard, Jr., who served as governor from 1965 to 1967. Each bid was unsuccessful.

In 2010, the son of Sam lost, and lost badly to our nearly-illiterate chief executive, "GED Jan" Brewer.

No doubt that was a humbling experience, for so genteel and well-spoken an individual as Goddard (Harvard grad, natch) to lose to a woman as refined as one of those reality-show rednecks on Hillbilly Handfishin'

Not to mention that Jan's only capable of communicating when her political ventriloquist Chuck Coughlin doesn't have his mouth full.

So I feel for Goddard. I really do. Losing sucks, but losing to the mental equivalent of Honey Boo-Boo is damn mortifying.

Also, Goddard was born to politics, not private life. He likely chafes at taking on the role of elder statesman.

But his apparent interest in returning to the post he held for eight years -- Attorney General, is misplaced.

He signaled that interest in a recent comment to the Arizona Republic's Yvonne Wingett-Sanchez. Former Democratic Congressional candidate Bob Lord has mentioned it on his blog. And pals of Goddard tell me he's serious about a run.


Goddard has been dodging me of late, not returning my calls. That's okay, Terry. People in your circle tell me you want to restore honor to an AG's office that has been severely tainted by Republican Attorney General Tom Horne.

I suspect Horne's current troubles have made him appear, in the eyes of many Rs and Ds, very beatable.

Politically, Horne is "dead man walkin'." And if Goddard wants to navigate a return to high public office, running for AG again must seem like donning an old catcher's mitt. Familiar, easy.

FOTs, "Friends of Terry," roll their eyes, and explain that they're afraid to tell Goddard the truth.

So let me do it for them.

Currently, you enjoy a fairly good rep with your fellow Ds, Terry. They like you, despite your faults, despite your inability to be tough on Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Despite your lackluster skills as a campaigner for guv.

But if you persist in this folly, you will alienate a large number of Dems for whom Felecia Rotellini, Horne's general election rival in 2010, is a rising star. She appeals to both GOPers and Dems. And she is as tough as titanium.

In 2010, in a year where Dems were being clobbered in Arizona and throughout the nation, Rotellini came dangerously close to denying Horne the AG's office, losing by a tantalizing 63,298 votes statewide, 48 percent to Horne's 52 percent.

Rotellini scored more votes than Goddard statewide: 807,185 to Goddard's 733,935. And her race was closer than Goddard's. Brewer skunked Goddard by 12 points, 56 to 44 percent, leaving him in the dust by pulling in 205,000 more votes than he garnered.

Any way you cut it, Rotellini is more popular than Goddard, and more effective. And many Dems think she was cheated out of a win because of alleged coordination between Horne and an independent expenditure committee run by Horne's outreach director Kathleen Winn.

The former superintendent of Arizona's banking department, Rotellini is a generation behind Goddard and appeals to a younger demographic. She's already signaled her interest in running again for the AG spot, so why is Goddard shamelessly determined to go a-poaching?

I asked Rotellini what she thought of Goddard's apparent desire to give her a primary. Always the class act, she got back to me with the following statement:

"I am looking hard at running for Attorney General. I have a great deal of respect for Terry Goddard. If I'm a candidate, I hope he will be standing by my side. If it so happens that we are both candidates, then the primary voters get to choose between us."


Democrat Bob Lord, who ran unsuccessfully for congress in 2008, agrees with me that a Goddard attempt at getting his old job back is a bad idea.

"He's a weak candidate," Lord told me. "Felecia Rotellini is a far, far better candidate. And another thing, Goddard was AG for eight years, and though he did some good things, he didn't go after [Sheriff Joe] Arpaio when he could have."

In reality, if Goddard had made taking down Arpaio a priority, it would have changed his milquetoast image into one of a ball-busting prosecutor. Given that in 2010, the state was in the midst of an anti-Mexican hysteria, looking tough would have been an obvious asset.

A contentious primary on the D-side for AG in 2014 will cost money, money that would be better spent in the general against Horne or whomever the GOP puts up. The Dems cannot rely on a wounded Horne come 2014. Already names are being floated on the R side of the fence as potential primary challengers to Horne.

Chief among these are ex-Tempe Mayor Hugh Hallman and Tom Liddy, a former Marine and onetime chair of the Maricopa County Republican Party, who is currently a top attorney at the Maricopa County Attorney's Office.

I talked to both men, and lets just say neither ruled it out completely.

"The people mentioning me for [the AG race] don't want me to run for governor," Hallman told me.

Currently, Hallman seems more focused on the possibility of making a bid for the 9th floor, though he has yet to make a decision.

Liddy, a former talk show host and the son of Watergate's G. Gordon Liddy, claimed he hadn't heard rumors that he might make a run for AG.

"First we have to see if Tom Horne is going to run," he said. "I don't know that I would run against anybody. I don't have any thoughts to run for AG."

He chuckled, adding, "If I quit my job and lose 25 pounds then you'll know something's up."

GOP and Dem insiders see both Liddy and a Hallman as formidable foes, should they decide to shoot for the AG spot. Both are considered principled conservatives who can appeal to Dems, and both have the connections to raise the cash for a statewide run.

"It would shock me if [Horne] ran and there wasn't a challenger in the GOP," one Republican heavyweight told me.

It would be far better for the Dems to fall behind Rotellini, Goddard included, and let the Rs duke it out in a primary. That's a no-brainer.

So if Goddard wants what's best for his party and himself, he'll see the wisdom of my unsolicited advice.

And stay out.

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