- Associated Press - Thursday, August 7, 2014

PHOENIX (AP) - Former Mesa Mayor Scott Smith is expected to get Gov. Jan Brewer’s endorsement Thursday in the Republican governor’s race primary.

But Brewer’s decision to finally choose among the six Republicans vying to replace her comes after weeks of indecision by the governor and nearly a week after ballots were sent to voters.

That could limit the boost Smith gets from the hard-sought endorsement of the popular Republican governor.

Smith has scheduled a “special event” Thursday at Cubs Park in Mesa with Brewer and Smith supporters. A person close to the Smith campaign confirmed the planned endorsement to The Associated Press on Wednesday. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the person wasn’t authorized to confirm it on the record before the event.

Smith, state Treasurer Doug Ducey and former Internet executive Christine Jones are widely considered the front-runners in the Aug. 26 primary. All have met with the governor in the past couple of months as she considered whether to endorse in the race. Others in the race include Secretary of State Ken Bennett, former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas and former U.S. Rep. Frank Riggs.

Brewer’s nod is critical for Smith, who trails Jones and Ducey in fundraising and lacks the support of outside groups who back them with independent expenditures. While endorsements don’t normally make or break a candidate, Brewer’s endorsement carries great weight in Arizona because of her popularity and ability to bring together supporters who might otherwise back another candidate.

Just Monday, Brewer spokesman Andrew Wilder said it remained a question whether Brewer would sit out the primary without making an endorsement.

Ducey has gathered support from many top Republicans, including former U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl and Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, and is way ahead of Smith in fundraising. He also has drawn support from independent groups running ads attacking Jones.

His spokeswoman didn’t directly address the endorsement Wednesday. Instead, Ducey’s campaign touted the endorsement of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who called the candidate “the private sector job creator and proven conservative leader that Arizona needs as its next governor.”

“Doug has built the broadest coalition in this race, and he’s built it since Day 1,” spokeswoman Melissa DeLaney said. “It’s the broadest coalition in the race, and we’d be happy to add Jan Brewer to that list on Aug. 27.”

Jones, who is funding her campaign mainly from the personal wealth she earned while general counsel at GoDaddy, also has the support of her former boss, company founder Bob Parsons. Parsons acknowledged to The Arizona Republic this week that he is pumping some of his fortune into an independent expenditure group that is attacking Ducey.

Jones spokeswoman Anna Haberlein declined to discuss the endorsement’s impact in the primary Wednesday, saying only “we look forward to having Gov. Brewer’s support in the general election.”

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