PHOENIX — Twice defeated in congressional races and rebuffed by voters in his bid to change election laws, Lake Havasu City radio station owner Rick Murphy is now seeking to become the state’s chief executive.
Murphy filed initial paperwork Thursday with the Secretary of State’s Office to wage a nonpartisan race for governor. The move came moments after he dropped his Republican Party affiliation.
While independents have generally fared poorly in Arizona races, Murphy, who has not been shy in the past about using his personal wealth to advance political causes — including $500,000 in a failed 2006 initiative to create a total vote-by-mail system — thinks he can generate enough support among what he said is a public increasingly disillusioned with the two major parties.
Murphy said he is weighing whether to pursue public financing, a move that would qualify him for $1.3 million.
Murphy said he expects to be more that just a spoiler, a la Democrat-turned-independent Bill Schulz, whose $2.2 million largely self-funded 1986 gubernatorial campaign likely siphoned votes from Democrat nominee Carolyn Warner, enabling Republican Evan Mecham, who was later impeached and removed from office, to get elected with a plurality.
He said he expects to take as many votes away from the Republican nominee as the Democrat.
“I’m a pretty moderate guy. I don’t subscribe to the hard left or the hard right policies,” Murphy said.
On Thursday, Murphy said he still believes the Affordable Care Act is “a disaster,’’ as he did during his unsuccessful 2012 congressional campaign.
“But that horse has gotten out of the barn,’’ he said. And rather than pushing to repeal it, which has been a GOP goal, Murphy said Republicans should work to fix it.
Murphy also said he is a supporter of the Second Amendment right to bear arms, but noted he supports waiting periods and background checks.
And while saying he personally opposes abortion, Murphy said the state should not stand in the way of a woman who chooses to terminate her pregnancy, at least prior to viability of the fetus.
A political independent could benefit from several factors.
The most recent voter registration figures show politically unaffiliated voters make up 34.1 percent of those registered. That’s less than a percentage point below Republicans, and more than four points higher than Democrats.
There are also signs of a potentially divisive and bruising GOP primary. Candidates include two current state elected officials — Secretary of State Ken Bennett and Treasurer Doug Ducey — along with state Sen. Al Melvin of Tucson, former web site hosting company GoDaddy general counsel Christine Jones and former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas.
Incumbent Jan Brewer has also indicated she could run for a second full term, despite constitutional language that suggests otherwise.