As first campaign finance reports are filed, the governor’s race comes into focus

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Gaynor leads the money race, Robson hits the airwaves hard and Yee drops out

By Jeremy Duda | Arizona Mirror

Steve Gaynor and Karrin Taylor Robson are sitting on millions for their gubernatorial campaigns as they prepare to hit the airwaves, while Katie Hobbs and Kari Lake offset strong fundraising numbers with big spending.

The state of the governor’s race became a bit clearer on Saturday as candidates submitted campaign finance reports for all of 2021. For candidates like Gaynor, Robson and Hobbs, it was an opportunity to showcase big bankrolls as the race heats up.

For others, it was a moment of truth: Kimberly Yee announced that she was dropping out of the governor’s race and instead seeking a second term as state treasurer. Shortly afterward, she filed a campaign finance report showing that she’d raised only about a half million dollars, by far the lowest of the five major GOP candidates. 

“I want to thank my volunteers and supporters from across Arizona’s 15 counties for their support during my campaign for Governor. As I transition my campaign, I invite them to join me in my re-election efforts for Arizona Treasurer,” Yee said in a press statement. “We will have more information in the coming days as I launch my re-election campaign for Treasurer.”

Yee will have a fight on her hands as she seeks re-election. State Rep. Jeff Weninger, R-Chandler, wrote on Twitter that he won’t withdraw from the treasurer’s race. He raised only $100,000 and has about $69,000 on hand. Yee has about $229,000 on hand, and must collect at least 6,663 valid signatures by April 4 to qualify for the ballot. 

That leaves Gaynor, Lake, Robson and Matt Salmon as the four contenders seeking the Republican nomination in August. 

Gaynor, a wealthy businessman who largely self-funded his unsuccessful campaign for secretary of state in 2018, began the year as the money leader in the race after injecting $5 million. He has about $4.6 million on hand and announced a statewide ad buy, touting himself as the first candidate in the race to begin running television ads. Multiple sources who are tracking ad buys say they see no movement from the Gaynor campaign yet. 

Robson has about $3 million on hand after pumping $1.95 million of her own money into her campaign and raising another $1.7 million from private contributors. And all signs point to her putting that money to work quickly. Records show that Robson will begin a sustained television advertising campaign on Tuesday, spending about $368,000 on her first week of broadcast and cable advertising. Records show she’s bought more than $2.2 million in airtime through early March. 

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