Tom Horne Pledges to Raise $400K in Post-Matching Funds Race for AG

We checked in yesterday with Tom Horne, the state Superintendent of Schools running in the Republican primary for Arizona Attorney General against former Maricopa County Andrew Thomas.

As we pointed out in this blog post, Horne is surely one of the big winners in yesterday's U.S. Supreme Court decision to block Clean Elections "matching funds" for the 2010 elections. And, indeed, when we talked to him yesterday, Horne was in a cheerful mood.

Thomas, of course, is using public funds to pay for his campaign. That means, thanks to yesterday's court ruling, he will only have $183,000 to spend in the primary, regardless of what Horne spends. (Before a lawsuit from the Goldwater Institute, Thomas would have enjoyed public funding to match Horne's fundraising.)

Horne told New Times that he'll be filing a report soon showing that he's raised $300,000 --  more than $200,000 from supporters and the rest his own money. 

"I expect to raise another $100,000," he said.

And, thanks to the court, he'll be spending it. "If the 9th circuit decision had stood, I might not have spent more than $183,000 in the primary," he said. Not so anymore -- without fear of generating more public funds for his opponent, Horne indicated that he intends to spend freely.

In today's Republic, Thomas' mouthpiece, Jason Rose, said Thomas isn't scared: "Rose ... said they have developed a campaign strategy that will work with or without matching funds."

But that's not exactly what Thomas himself wrote in an affidavit on June 4.

In a four-page statement urging the Supreme Court not to block the matching funds, the former county attorney averred that "the availability of matching funds was a key factor in my decision to opt into the public funding program; without matching funds, I would have been concerned that I might not have had sufficient funds to run a competitive campaign."

He continued, "My ability to run a viable campaign in 2010 may be significantly harmed if matching funds are eliminated during this election cycle."

We checked in with Michael Becker, the spokesman for Clean Elections, and he confirmed to us that it's too late for candidates like Thomas to change their minds and eschew the "clean" system. Because he's already received his initial disbursement for the race, he can neither raise money from private donors (beyond some initial seed money) or put his own money into his campaign.

So if Thomas really was counting on the matching funds, as he claimed in his affidavit, all we can say is ... oops!

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Sarah Fenske
Contact: Sarah Fenske