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Field of six vying to be governor in Republican Primary

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Thomas has unflinchingly taken on powerful establishment career politicians, judges and bureaucrats, although much to his detriment

By Linda Bentley

CAVE CREEK – The ballots are in the mail and the Republican Primary Ballot is chock full of candidates.

The gubernatorial race is the most crowded, so I’ll take the six candidates in alphabetical order rather than the random ballot order in which they appear.

Ken Bennett, our secretary of state, was appointed by Gov. Jan Brewer as her replacement when she moved up to governor to fill the balance of Gov. Janet Napolitano’s term.

Bennett, who graduated from Arizona State University in 1984 with an accounting degree, is a career politician, boasting 25 years of public service.

He began his political career, fresh out of college, in 1985 when he was elected to the Prescott City Council.

Bennett moved on to the Arizona State Board of Education and in 1998 was elected to the state legislature, where he served in the Senate until he termed out.

His bio states he was CEO of Bennett Oil Company, a family fuel distribution business, from 1985 to 2006, where he remains on its board of directors.

Doug Ducey, currently state treasurer, boasts having “helped launch Cold Stone Creamery on its path to success,” claiming when he and his business partner sold the company in 2007, Cold Stone went from a local ice cream parlor to more than 1,400 franchises in all 50 states and 25 countries around the world.

However, there are a whole lot of unhappy Cold Stone franchisees and former franchisees out there who have sharp words to say about Ducey.

Former Cold Stone franchisee owner Randy Reed stated, “I think I speak for a number of deceived Cold Stone franchisees when I say that we continue to be disappointed in Doug Ducey's distortions and his lack of transparency. As the CEO of Cold Stone, Ducey pushed new franchisees to get SBA loans. Those loans ended up costing taxpayers more than $25 million.”

Many have stated they were scammed by Ducey, calling the franchises nothing more than a pyramid scheme.

One former franchisee stated, “Cold Stone Creamery is not the ‘Disneyland of Ice Cream,’ as they would have everyone believe, but rather the ‘Evil Empire of Ice Cream.’”

Another wrote, “I feel extremely bad for all the people who have lost so much money with Cold Stone. I have a degree in criminal justice and I don’t see how this is not fraud.”

And yet another wrote, “Yes attitude is everything but when someone comes in and intentionally feeds you lie after lie with docs to back it up, it then constitutes FRAUD… Most of us have been devastated by these unscrupulous vultures and it may not be in this life but they will answer for it, hopefully and prayerfully it will be in this life and I want to be there when it happens.”

That is but a small sampling of comments from a large group of unhappy Cold Stone franchisees.

Ducey is been endorsed by a host of RINOs (Republican In Name Only), including former Senator Jon Kyl, Rep. Jeff Flake, Brewer, former Gov. Fife Symington and Barry Goldwater, Jr. (who is very unlike his father).

Also running is Christine Jones, former counsel for GoDaddy.com. Jones recently told a local reporter she likes to practice shooting with her eyes closed because “… chances are, if somebody attacks you, it’s going to be in the night.”

Jones is running on a platform of combating illegal immigration, although it’s not clear what she plans to do if elected.

In December 2012, in the wake of the Benghazi attacks, when Secretary Hillary Clinton did nothing to save four Americans pleading for help while blaming the attacks on an obscure video, knowing it was a lie, Jones stated, “Hillary Clinton will continue to stand out as a capable and respected leader.”

With a statement like that, especially coming from a Republican candidate for governor, what more needs to be said?

Then there’s Frank Riggs, a former state legislator from California, who currently resides in Scottsdale.

Riggs is a veteran, who joined the Army right out of high school.

He’s also a former police officer and deputy sheriff.

Riggs is pro-life, pro-family, pro-Second Amendment and pro charter schools.

In 2001, Riggs moved to Arizona and according to his bio, it’s where he “built the largest nonprofit organization in the country (and Community Development Financial Institution) dedicated to helping public charter schools finance and build their educational facilities, including over 300,000 square feet of facilities for Arizona charter schools that today educate roughly 5,000 students. Riggs also was the founding board president of an Arizona statewide, on-line charter school that provides an accredited curriculum to home schooling families.”

Riggs explored running for governor in 2005 but learned Arizona has a five-year residency requirement to run for governor.

Former Mesa Mayor Scott Smith termed out as mayor and resigned in January in order to run for governor.

Smith was part of the team put together by Cave Creek Interim Town Manager Rodney Glassman, a very liberal Democrat, to help select the three finalists for the town’s permanent town manager position.

Smith is considered a “moderate” Republican, who was also president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM), from which he also resigned in order to run.

The USCM, which represents cities with populations of 30,000 is basically a lobbying organization with the goal of influencing presidents and Congress to enact legislation that benefit cities.

Smith, as mayor, was a big proponent of taxpayer funded “economic development” projects.

In 2009, Smith led voters to pass Proposition 300, a development deal to bring a 1,200-room Gaylord Hotel and Resort to the Mesa Proving Grounds.

In 2011, voters passed Proposition 420, approving an incentive package to build the Chicago Cubs a new spring training facility when, after training in Mesa for over 50 years, the Cubs received an offer to move their spring training to Naples, Florida.

In writing op-ed pieces for the Wall Street Journal, Politico and the Arizona Republic, Smith has collaborated with former Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, both extremely liberal Democrats.

So, by “moderate” Republican, it appears Smith is an advocate of big government that pals around with extremely liberal Democrats.

Last but not least, Andrew Thomas is also running for governor.

As former Maricopa County Attorney, Thomas is known for risking his livelihood and was subsequently disbarred, for standing up to corrupt and powerful politicians, including county supervisors Mary Rose Wilcox and Don Stapley, both of whom were indicted by grand juries.

While serving as county attorney, Thomas worked with Sheriff Joe Arpaio to combat the illegal immigration problem plaguing the state.

Phoenix, in particular, had become a human and drug smuggling distribution hub for the rest of the country with traffickers holding drugs and human cargo in drop houses throughout the city.

Thomas interpreted Arizona’s anti-smuggling law as being one in which both parties, the smuggler as well as the person paying to be smuggled, are committing a crime, rather than the person paying to be smuggled being considered a victim.

The interpretation is really no different than a prostitute and the John soliciting and paying the prostitute for sex both being considered involved in criminal activity.

Thomas also uncovered numerous instances of non-citizens who were registered to vote.

This came to light after his office reviewed requests to be excused from jury duty because of non citizenship.

Thomas learned they were called to jury duty through the voter registration rolls.

So, when Thomas ran for county attorney on a platform of taking on illegal immigration, he made good on his promise.

He also took on the Maricopa County Superior Court system when it began implementing its “culturally competent courts” by providing special and more lenient treatment for criminals in Spanish and Native American DUI courts.

Thomas has unflinchingly taken on powerful establishment career politicians, judges and bureaucrats, although much to his detriment.

While some claim he has too much baggage to win the governor’s race, he has a firm and committed group of supporters who still believe in him.

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