A political unknown has thrown nearly $2.1 million of his own cash into his bid to become governor, a move that could change the landscape of the race. Owen Buz Mills, a member of the National Rifle Association board of directors, filed a report with the Secretary of State's Office this week detailing the funding.
A political unknown has thrown nearly $2.1 million of his own cash into his bid to become governor, a move that could change the landscape of the race.
Owen Buz Mills, a member of the National Rifle Association board of directors, filed a report with the Secretary of State's Office this week detailing the funding.
Mills apparently was anxious to make his financing known. He submitted his campaign report on Saturday; it is not due until the end of the month.
But Camilla Strongin, who is managing his campaign, said that wasn't done to try to scare off other candidates. She said Mills, the owner of Gunsite, is traveling on business and just wanted to get the legally required paperwork filed.
She said, though, the decision to put that much of his own money into the campaign should erase any doubts that he is a serious contender.
Doug Cole, a campaign manager for incumbent Gov. Jan Brewer, said Mills' financing won't affect her bid for a full term of her own. Cole said Brewer is running with public dollars and has already gathered the necessary $5 donations to qualify her for $707,447 for her primary race and, if she wins, another $1,061,171 for the general election.
And if Mills stays in the race, she could get more - a lot more - in the primary.
That's because state law says once a privately financed candidate in the primary spends more than a publicly funded contender has received, the state provides a dollar-for-dollar match, up to three times the original amount. That tops more than $2.1 million.
But if Mills were to spend even more than that, publicly financed candidates like Brewer and Paradise Valley Mayor Vernon Parker - and state Treasurer Dean Martin, who has said he is interested in the race and would likely use public funds - would get no more than that cap, a move that could enable Mills to greatly outspend his foes.
Cole said the real loser in this equation could be Tucson resident John Munger, who is running with private dollars.
"I mean, who would donate to John Munger now when another unknown individual such as himself has $2 million in the bank?" he said.
But Munger said he's not concerned.
"I'm going to have plenty of money ... to get my message out," he said, putting his goal for fundraising for the GOP primary at $1 million. And Munger said he has something Mills does not: a background not only in business but also in public policy because of his years as president of the Arizona Board of Regents.
Strongin said Mills was out of state and not available to be interviewed.
But she said his decision to run was based on his belief the state is not being properly managed. And Strongin said his experience as a business owner, most recently of Gunsite, shows he "understands what it takes to get people into the work force."
The company, located south of Paulden, operates a 2,000-acre weapons training range for law enforcement, military and private citizens.
Strongin said Mills is particularly unhappy with Brewer's proposal for a temporary sales tax hike to balance the budget "as opposed to working on how to get people back to work and increase the tax base." Strongin declined to say how Mills would deal with the immediate problem of plugging the deficit, saying there will be "plenty of opportunity to sit down and discuss specifics."