June 19, 2018
When I announced candidacy for Arizona Secretary of State last Fall, I set forth a vision that would return that office to a nonpartisan, even-handed, and fair administration of our elections and that respected and promoted all people and diverse cultures of our great State.
As a lifelong resident who remembers growing up in an Arizona under a great Secretary of State, Rose Mofford, I have seen other Democratic and Republican Secretaries who honored this state and protected its citizens’ rights. The difference between them and our current Secretary Michele Reagan is startling. From day one of this campaign, I understood and spoke vociferously about the need for a new Secretary. In my 26 years as a voting rights watchdog nationwide and as a federal law election protection attorney, I have never before observed as many voting rights violations in any election office as I have unfortunately seen in my home state’s Secretary of State office under Michele Reagan. Not only do I understand why we need a change, but I have a long list of changes that must be made by whomever defeats Michele Reagan in November.
It is crystal clear that Michele Reagan is incapable of handling the job: she approved plans to reduce polling sites, thereby causing 6 hour lines, and then turned around and blamed “voter confusion”; she failed to mail 200,000 statutorily-required voter pamphlets; her office purged citizens from voting rolls; she dismissed as overblown citizens’ concerns over Russian hacking of our election system; her office published incorrect voting dates and candidate signature requirements and wasted over one million taxpayer dollars on an incomplete website.
Now, the incompetence of her administration has become a personal matter to me. When our campaign filed its hard-earned petition signatures at the end of May, her office lost 209 of our petition pages containing over 1,200 signatures of citizens who used their democratic voice to vouch for getting my name on the ballot (these signatures collected from October through May included such folks as Felecia Rotellini (AZ Democratic Party Chair), my former campaign manager (Jon Ryder), State Representatives, City Council members, prominent attorneys (Paul Eckstein, Bruna Pedrini, more), and even my brother). Absent those signatures, we were left with barely over the minimum number to qualify for the ballot prior to any review of our signatures. Though, admittedly, the campaign should have collected more signatures earlier in the campaign, I am proud of our staff and volunteers who added another 6,000 signatures to our tally in the final 6 weeks prior to the May 30th deadline, pushing our tally over 7,100. We presented photocopies of the lost petitions, but Michele Reagan’s office has refused to count the signatures.
The Secretary’s loss of our petitions at filing added to the prior weeks’ incidents of theft of some of our signed petitions and defacement of a signed petition posted on an anonymous online parody account. Our programming, major fundraising events, and other activities had to be postponed or cancelled as we engaged in a 3-week effort to try to get the Secretary’s office to find the petitions they lost and credit our signature total following our petitions push in the final weeks leading up to our May 30th filing. Meanwhile, the Secretary’s political appointees have inappropriately engaged in a defamatory public relations war against me and the campaign. This combination of events since mid-May was simply too much for the campaign to overcome, sidetracked our planned outreach, and prevented the campaign from achieving its goals and being the campaign we envisioned for the homestretch of the primary.
Secretary Michele Reagan needs to go! The focus needs to be on removing her from office, not fighting against other Democrats. The choice was to fight other Democrats and opponents of Michele Reagan in order for us to stay on the ballot, or to unite our efforts and everyone’s focus on the true issue at hand: replacing Michele Reagan this November. The choice was clear. As I have sincerely stated throughout this campaign, this race is not about me nor my career moves; it is about you, the voter; it’s about YOUR vote.
Therefore, in order to advance a unified effort and bolster chances of defeating Reagan in November, our campaign has today withdrawn from the race for Secretary of State. I have chosen to use my unique skill set and experience as a citizen advocate instead of as a candidate to continue the fight against the bad and damaging policies of Reagan’s office without needing to focus on defeating primary opponents. Rest assured, I will continue to be a vocal advocate for change in that office and will be vocal in support of our Democratic nominee.
Everything you have done for our campaign has moved the needle for voting rights and transparency in our democracy and in this State. To our donors, supporters, volunteers, elected official and organizational endorsers, and friends, I am deeply humbled by your support. I hope that we honored you by running a clean, honest, and issue-driven campaign.
To those 1,200 citizens whose voices were disenfranchised by the Secretary’s loss of the 209 petitions, we will continue to hold the Secretary and her political appointees accountable. To those among the 1,200 signatories who have thus far helped us compile documentary proof of your prior petition signatures by providing us affidavits this week, thank you! Despite withdrawing from the race, we will continue to collect affidavits from any and all of the 1,200 citizens who signed our petition, but whose signatures are not reflected in the official Secretary of State’s online tally.
I will continue to fight for your voting rights just I have done nationwide over the past 26 years.
I will continue to promote the treasures and rich history and cultures and sites of our beautiful State.
Fans of the online #GordonOnTheGo videos can expect to see new content soon.
The Copper Trail program celebrating points of pride and promoting volunteerism throughout the state will have a renewed focus outside the campaign and will need your volunteer service hours and donations.
In addition to The Copper Trail, the campaign itself has some remaining expenses to pay, so please consider making a donation today.
Disappointed, of course, by this unforeseen outcome, I am just fine, happy, and energized to continue to make a difference. I look forward to serving this State and its people in a variety of endeavors and roles. Rest assured, I will do everything I can to ensure that we elect a new Secretary of State, and I will dedicate myself to assisting and advising candidates for other offices and our important citizen initiatives this cycle.
Thank you, again!
Mark Robert Gordon
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