Republican State Treasurer Kimberly Yee makes it official: She's running for Arizona governor

Andrew Oxford
Arizona Republic
State Treasurer Kimberly Yee speaks during a campaign event at the Arizona Republican Party headquarters in Phoenix on Nov. 2, 2020.

State Treasurer Kimberly Yee announced Monday that she is running for governor in 2022, leaping into the Republican primary to succeed Doug Ducey after his second term ends.

Yee was the first prominent Republican to enter the race and sought to play up her conservative credentials, focusing on the border and touting former President Donald Trump in a short video released Monday morning. Another Republican candidate joined the race later Monday.

“I’m running for governor to put Arizona first, to ensure our children have the same opportunities and freedoms my family found here, and that starts with securing our southern border,” Yee said.

The treasurer’s announcement made clear she intends to make her support for Trump a key part of her appeal to Republican primary voters. She spoke at the 2016 Republican National Convention and served in 2020 as national co-chair of Asian Pacific Americans for Trump and as a member of the Pro-Life Voices for Trump advisory board.

But that will put her in uncomfortable territory. Several months after the election, Trump has pit his staunchest backers against local GOP officials by continuing to insist — without offering evidence — that his defeat in Arizona was the result of some kind of wrongdoing and characterizing the election as “corrupt” and “third world.”

Yee has stayed quiet on that issue, even as the governor — and as recently as Saturday, the attorney general — faced pressure from the former president to intervene on his behalf.

While Yee has used the post of treasurer, the state’s top investment officer, to keep up a steady itinerary of appearances around the state, it has also allowed her to stay out of hotter political issues.

Yee’s campaign declined a request for an interview Monday as she launched her campaign.

But the campaign is bound to put Yee back in the spotlight midway through her stint in an office that can be overlooked even as it serves as a political launchpad. Gov. Doug Ducey served one term as treasurer before successfully running for the state's top job.

Kimberly Yee, the Arizona State Treasurer, speaks during an RNC watch party at a MAGA meet-up volunteer event in Phoenix on Aug. 24, 2020.

Elected in 2018, Yee is the first Asian American person to win statewide office in Arizona. She was previously a state senator, representing District 20 in the West Valley, and was majority leader from 2017 to 2019. She established herself as socially conservative, sponsoring and passing legislation to ban abortions after 20 weeks.

At a 2018 debate in the treasurer's race, Yee said she opposed raising taxes but said she wanted the state to conduct a review of tax collections and look for ways to improve the process.

“I think it is very important they look at the overall picture of what our state tax system looks like,” she said at the debate. “Even how they file taxes. As a small business owner, let’s make it easier.”

Yee previously worked for the state Legislature and the treasurer’s office.

Before jumping into Arizona politics, she worked as a deputy cabinet secretary under California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and a policy analyst for California Gov. Pete Wilson. She now runs a dental practice with her husband in the West Valley. Born and raised in Arizona, Yee has degrees from Pepperdine University and Arizona State University. Yee has two children.

Yee joins former Nogales Mayor Marco López, a Democrat, in the race for governor. He launched his campaign in March.

And they were joined just a few hours later by Karrin Taylor Robson, a Republican and member of the Arizona Board of Regents.

On the Republican side, possible additional candidates include former congressman Matt Salmon, former Ducey chief of staff Kirk Adams and Maricopa County Supervisor Steve Chucri.

While Attorney General Mark Brnovich has long been considered a possible contender, he seems to have changed his focus to the race for U.S. Senate to challenge Sen. Mark Kelly, a Democrat.

Aside from López, possible Democratic candidates include Secretary of State Katie Hobbs and U.S. Rep. Greg Stanton.

Contact Andrew Oxford at or on Twitter at @andrewboxford.

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