PHOENIX (AP) -- Former Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard officially became a candidate Thursday for the Democratic nomination for secretary of state.
Goddard, who had said previously he'd run for the office, filed his candidacy papers with the Secretary of State's Office. The former state attorney general, who served from 2003 through 2010, ran three times for governor unsuccessfully - most recently in 2010.
"I was totally prepared to exercise my right to go into the private sector," Goddard said of the plans he had a year ago. "But what's happened in the meantime is a series of activities that got me angry and got me concerned about voters' rights in Arizona."
Goddard, a former Phoenix mayor, said among the things that perturbed him was a sweeping 2013 state election law pushed by majority Republicans that was repealed last month. The law's provisions included trimming the state's permanent early voting list and increasing the number of signatures required for minor-party candidates to qualify for statewide and legislative races.
"It hurt just about everyone in the state," Goddard said. "It got repealed not because the Legislature didn't like it anymore. They were afraid voters would send a resounding message to them that this is a bad idea."
If he becomes Arizona's top election official, Goddard said he will serve as a "spokesperson for the voters." Goddard said he believes he can conduct himself in a nonpartisan manner.
"I did that as attorney general for eight years. I don't think anyone felt the way I ran that office was as a Democrat or a Republican," Goddard said.
After the uproar over Senate Bill 1062, which would have made it legal for business owners to refuse to serve gays based on their religious beliefs, Goddard said he also wants to help restore Arizona's image on the national stage. While he wasn't surprised Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed it, she should have addressed it earlier, Goddard added.
"What I was surprised and sad about was that it sat on her desk for a week and it allowed the rest of the country to say bad things about us," Goddard said. "I'm tired of having to defend our state and see us the butt of jokes on `The Daily Show' practically every week."
Goddard seems poised to run unopposed in the Democratic primary in August. State Sen. Leah Landrum Taylor decided to withdraw from the race last month. Being the only candidate wasn't necessarily an advantage since the focus would probably be on the contested Republican primary, Goddard said.
Republicans who have announced plans to campaign for secretary of state include state Sen. Michele Reagan, Rep. Justin Pierce and investor Wil Cardon.
Arizona's secretary of state is the first in line to become governor if that office becomes vacant in the middle of a term. Arizona does not have a lieutenant governor.
Incumbent Ken Bennett is running for the Republican nomination for governor.
Associated Press writer Paul Davenport contributed to this report.
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Please join us this Friday for our official campaign Kickoff! Details here http://t.co/FMNdKWssiV— Terry Goddard (@TerryGoddardAZ) March 4, 2014