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Arizona Treasurer Yee announces candidacy for governor
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Arizona Treasurer Yee announces candidacy for governor

  • State Treasurer Kimberly Yee speaks at her inauguration on Jan. 7, 2019.
    Gage Skidmore/FlickrState Treasurer Kimberly Yee speaks at her inauguration on Jan. 7, 2019.

State Treasurer Kimberly Yee announced her candidacy for governor in 2022, making her the first Republican of note to join the wide open race to be Arizona’s chief executive.

In her announcement video on Monday morning, Yee touted her family’s background as immigrants and small business owners, embraced former President Donald Trump’s economic and border policies, and warned of “socialist” policies that she said would destroy Arizona’s way of life.

“My family came here and opened a grocery store in the 1930s. But today, opportunities like theirs are under attack,” Yee said. “I’m running for governor to put Arizona first, to ensure our children have the same opportunities and freedoms as my family found in this great country.”

Yee said that work begins at the U.S.-Mexico border, citing the ongoing influx of Mexican and Central American migrants into the country.

“Washington is simply not going to protect Arizona. Refusing to enforce the law. Opening our state to drug cartels, violence and human traffickers. Putting partisan games over safety and security. As your next governor I’ll continue President Trump’s fight to secure our southern border,” Yee said.

Yee said Arizona also can’t take its eyes off another border, that with California. The one-time aide to former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said she’s seen firsthand what “socialist” policies have done to that state and others, saying she’ll promote opportunity over handouts.

“As a small business owner raised by small business owners, I know the importance of doing business the right way. President Trump’s America First agenda had our economy booming like never before. But now, our way of life is under attack by the corrupt press, reckless corporate leaders and politicians who put socialist ideals over people, our freedom of speech and our elections,” Yee said in her video.

Yee has never weighed in on the false allegations and conspiracy theories claiming the 2020 election was rigged against Trump, and did not take a public position regarding the attempts by Trump and Republican allies in Congress to challenge certification of Joe Biden’s election as president. She and her campaign did not respond to questions from the Arizona Mirror about the issue on Monday. Yee is the highest-ranking Republican in state government to not take a position on the legitimacy of the election.

In 2018, Yee became the first Asian-American to be elected to statewide office in Arizona, as well as the first Chinese-American Republican woman elected to statewide office in U.S. history, when she was elected state treasurer. She served in the legislature from 2010 until 2018. Prior to her appointment to the Arizona House of Representatives — she was subsequently elected to the House and Senate in her own right four times — Yee was an aide to former state Treasurer Dean Martin. She and her husband, who is a dentist, own a dental office in Litchfield Park.

Yee’s family came to the United States from China around the turn of the 20th century. Her maternal grandfather ran a grocery store in Phoenix, and her maternal grandfather ran a hand laundry in Pittsburgh.

As treasurer, Yee has kept a relatively low profile. Shortly after taking office in 2019, Yee championed legislation requiring high school students to take a course in economics, including financial literacy and personal financial management. Last year, she was a vocal opponent of Proposition 208, a ballot proposition to raise income taxes on individuals who earn more than $250,000 per year, and appeared in television ads urging voters to reject the measure, which passed in the November election.

Gov. Doug Ducey is termed out of office next year, leaving a wide open race for governor. Yee is the first candidate in what could be a crowded GOP primary.

Former Congressman Matt Salmon, currently the vice president for government affairs at Arizona State University, and Karrin Taylor Robson, a member of the Arizona Board of Regents, are expected to run. Attorney General Mark Brnovich is also widely viewed as a potential contender, though he’s also reported to be leaning toward a run for U.S. Senate instead.

On the Democratic side, Marco Lopez, a former Nogales mayor and director of the Arizona Department of Commerce under former Gov. Janet Napolitano, announced his candidacy in March, and Secretary of State Katie Hobbs is widely expected to run as well.

This report was first published by the Arizona Mirror.


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