Grant Woods Running for Phoenix Mayor -- Maybe

Former Arizona Attorney General Grant Woods confirmed today in a phone interview with New Times that he is seriously contemplating a run for mayor of Phoenix.

Woods, a Republican who served two terms as attorney general from 1991 to 1999, refused to put odds on the likelihood of his running -- but said that he intends to make a decision one way or another by June.

"A lot of people have really taken a lot of time to present very thoughtful arguments to me about why this would be important," he says. "That's something I'm listening to. Now I just have to think it through."

Woods, who is serving as one of the co-chairs of Governor Jan Brewer's reelection campaign, would almost certainly be the favorite of the Valley's deep-pocketed donors, who typically pour tens of thousands of dollars into the mayor's race.

One observer, who asked not to be named, said that Woods would immediately become "the 800 pound gorilla in the race."

City council members Claude Mattox, Peggy Neely, and Tom Simplot are all contemplating a run, since Mayor Phil Gordon will be driven out by term limits in 2011. But while each council member has a narrow constituency, Woods could appeal to a much larger (and more monied) base.

Indeed, Woods says he's been gratified that the people urging him to run fall on both sides of the political spectrum. Despite his longtime affiliation with the GOP, Woods is oft derided in hardcore conservative circles as a RINO, or "Republican in Name Only" and may be just as popular outside of his party. (Even though he's chairing Governor Brewer's reelection campaign, Woods strongly opposes S.B. 1070, the controversial bill that the governor signed last week requiring police to ask all suspected illegal immigrants for their papers.)

The mayor's office appeals to Woods, he says, because of its nonpartisan nature.

"I won't do the party-line vote," he says. "And in running for a party's nomination, they don't like that. I have no intention of running for anything where I'd have to fit my views into some narrow ideological slot."

Still, it's hard to imagine a wealthy lawyer who enjoys rubbing elbows with Charles Barkley and John McCain being willing to take on one of the Valley's most thankless jobs. Woods admits it could be a nightmare.

"The only one reason to run for anything -- in my view -- is the whole idea of duty, honor, and country," he says. "You've got to do it because you really believe your country or your state or your city is at a turning point and really needs your leadership. I haven't felt that in the past or I would have run.

"This is clearly an important time for Phoenix," he continues, then quickly adds, "But that doesn't mean I have to be the one to do it."

On this one, folks, you're going to have to stay tuned.

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