Conservative activist Len Munsil launched his campaign Tuesday for the Republican nomination for governor, focusing on illegal immigration, education, tax cuts and core family values.
In a 30-minute speech at a Scottsdale resort, Munsil also described incumbent Democrat Janet Napolitano as a “photo-op” governor, who refuses to lead on key issues.
“We have an incumbent who seems more interested in positioning herself for reelection and the next political office than living by the courage of conviction,” he said.
Napolitano spokeswoman Pati Urias called Munsil just “another candidate in a very crowded GOP field for governor” in an e-mail.
Despite being relatively unknown outside Republican circles, Munsil, 42, said his promise of an administration based on limited government and economic freedom would carry him to victory in September’s primary election.
He’s been far ahead in fundraising, accumulating a war chest of $46,400 in a month.
On one of the most heated issues in the state and country, Munsil said he would not sit by and wait for the federal government to shore up the border with Mexico.
Last year, Munsil stepped down as president of the conservative Center for Arizona Policy, known for advocating bans on abortion, gay marriage and the state lottery, so he could focus on his political campaign.
The nonprofit group — which Munsil helped start along with his wife — has also pushed for school choice, anti-pornography legislation and creation of Bible groups in middle schools.
When pressed on those and other issues Tuesday, Munsil said he would offer more details as the campaign unfolds.
Sen. Ron Gould, R-Lake Havasu City, who attended the event, said Munsil is his party’s “best hope’’ for unseating Napolitano.
Along with Gould, Sen. Jack Harper, R-Surprise, attended the political rally to support Munsil.
So far, high-profile candidates such as Rep. J.D. Hayworth, R-Ariz., former Maricopa County Attorney Richard Romley and former Gov. Fife Symington have taken their names out of consideration for the Republican nomination.
Currently, former state senator John Greene, Dan Goldwater and Jan Smith Florez are running in the GOP race.
Although she has not formally announced her candidacy, recent polls show Napolitano’s approval ratings stand at or near 60 percent.