Arizona AG race turns heated fast

By Chris Rizo | Feb 19, 2010

Felecia Rotellini (D)

Tom Horne (R)

PHOENIX, Ariz. (Legal Newsline)-Republican Tom Horne's entry into the Arizona attorney general race was greeted Friday by a stinging rebuke from one of his Democratic rivals.

Horne, the state superintendent of public instruction, announced Thursday his bid for the Republican AG nomination, drawing criticism from Felecia Rotellini, the former superintendent of the Arizona Department of Financial Institutions.

Rotellini said neither Horne nor fellow Republican AG hopeful Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas would protect Arizonans as the state's chief legal officer.

"Unfortunately, both Tom Horne and his likely primary opponent Andrew Thomas have repeatedly demonstrated that making government work for the people of Arizona takes a back seat to their politically and idealogically (sic) driven agendas," she said in a written statement.

She accused Horne of putting Arizona's educational system "on the political bargaining table" as the state's schools' chief.

"Now he's asking Arizona families to let the wolf guard the hen house just one more time," she said.

Instead, Rotellini said voters should support her bid to succeed fellow Democrat Attorney General Terry Goddard, who is running for governor.

"I come to this race with priorities that have been shaped by the last 17 years I've spent as a tough prosecutor and financial watchdog, fighting for everyday people in Arizona," she said. "We are facing difficult challenges in our state and as attorney general, I will exercise the discipline and discernment of a prosecutor to ensure that we are picking the right battles and using taxpayer dollars in the most efficient and effective way possible."

Horne, a Harvard-educated lawyer, was elected Arizona state superintendent of public instruction in 2002 and was reelected to a second four-year term in 2006. Rotellini was tapped by then-Democratic Gov. Janet Napolitano in 2006 to head the Arizona Department of Financial Institutions.

The most recent campaign finance reports showed that Horne had the fundraising lead in the race, bringing in $210,163 as of Jan. 31. The latest filings with the Arizona secretary of state's office show that Rotellini raised $140,000 through the end of January, while Thomas reported raising $25,070.

Democratic state Rep. David Lujan, who is also seeking the Democratic AG nomination, reported that he raised $50,533 as of the end of January.

From Legal Newsline: Reach staff reporter Chris Rizo at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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