Matt Salmon drops out of Arizona governor race, endorses Karrin Taylor Robson

In a statement, Salmon said, "It has become clear to me that the path to a first-place victory is no longer a realistic possibility."
Published: Jun. 28, 2022 at 1:20 PM MST|Updated: Jun. 29, 2022 at 8:46 AM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5/KOLD News 13/AP) - Former Rep. Matt Salmon announced Tuesday that he is ending his gubernatorial campaign. The move comes a week before early ballots are mailed out and leaves the GOP contest a two-candidate slugfest. Salmon was widely seen as trailing former TV news anchor Kari Lake and developer Karrin Taylor Robson.

Robson has been spending millions on her campaign to boost her political standing against Lake, a populist who has been endorsed by former President Donald Trump. Salmon says it became clear he couldn’t win. He was increasingly seen as a spoiler who could split mainstream Republicans and pull votes from Robson.

On Wednesday, Salmon announced his endorsement of Robson for governor. “Karrin is a successful businesswoman and a conservative outsider who is well qualified to serve as chief executive of the state we love,” Salmon said in a press release. “With her decades of service in Arizona, I am confident that she knows what it takes to stand up for families, protect taxpayers, secure the border, and push back against the Biden Administration. “I look forward to putting the full weight of my support behind her candidacy.

Longtime political consultant and pollster, Paul Bentz said Robson stands to benefit the most from Salmon’s exit. “(Salmon) was a more policy driven individual who appeals to more traditional conservatives, fiscal responsible and others of those types of audiences aren’t aligned with what Lake has been purporting, which is more of the populist approach the more Trump approach,” Bentz said.

Two lesser-known Republicans will also be on the ballot.

Shortly after Salmon’s announcement, Lake announced former Salmon supporter, state Sen. Warren Petersen, had endorsed her campaign. Salmon has yet to say will throw his support behind any of the two major candidates still in the race.

Primary ballots will be mailed out next Wednesday, and Salmon’s name will still appear on them. But he hopes pulling out now means voters will have enough time to learn he’s no longer in the race.

Robson said Salmon has been a leader in the conservative movement for decades and is “Arizona through and through.” “I thank him for running an honorable campaign for governor,” she said in a statement. “Arizona faces big challenges, and I have no doubt Matt will continue to find ways to serve this state he loves.”

Lake also praised Salmon and called for his supporters to back her campaign. “As I’ve said from the beginning — if you love this state, this country and our America First ideals, I welcome you into our movement with open arms,” Lake said in a statement.

Term limits bar current Republican Gov. Doug Ducey from running again in 2022. Secretary of State Katie Hobbs and former Nogales Mayor Marco Lopez are seeking the Democratic nomination.

Salmon issued the following statement Tuesday afternoon: