Two Republicans seeking state office vowed Friday to reduce the crime rate if elected, but only one promised not to seek another term if he is unsuccessful.
At a news conference at the state Capitol, gubernatorial hopeful Len Munsil and attorney general candidate Bill Montgomery recited statistics showing the state has the highest crime rate in the nation. And they specifically laid the blame at the feet of incumbent Gov. Janet Napolitano — who was attorney general for four years before that — and Terry Goddard, her successor.
But Montgomery conceded under questioning that the state’s crime rate has been no lower than sixth in the nation from the time that Republicans held the same two offices: Fife Symington as governor and Grant Woods as attorney general.
That, however, did not stop the pair from saying that shows the two incumbents need to be ousted. Montgomery said the state’s perennial high crime rate is directly linked to illegal immigration.
Montgomery repeated a pledge made when he first announced his intent to try to become attorney general: If crime is not reduced in four years, he will not run for re-election.
Munsil, however, who has been waging a coordinated campaign with Montgomery, was unwilling to do the same. “If we’re still No. 1 in crime after four years of my term as governor, I will insist that Bill keep his pledge and not run for re-election,’’ he said.
Goddard termed the charges “political silliness.’’ He said his office has a record of working to help keep people from becoming crime victims.
Noah Kroloff, an aide to the Napolitano campaign, called her record “second to none.’’ Kroloff said she has started new programs as governor, such as a fraudulent ID task force. And he said her administration has made a “substantial investment’’ in the state Department of Public Safety.
Actual crime statistics paint a more complex picture than the pair’s decision to fault Napolitano and Goddard.
Arizona does have the highest crime rate in the nation. By comparison, it was fourth in 1992, a year into the term of Fife Symington, and fourth in 1998, a year after Jane Hull became governor. Both are Republicans.