The 1994 Arizona gubernatorial election took place on November 8, 1994 for the post of Governor of Arizona. Fife Symington, the incumbent Republican Governor of Arizona, defeated the Democratic nominee Eddie Basha.
|1994 Arizona gubernatorial election|
Election results by county
In the Republican primary, incumbent Governor Fife Symington was challenged by businesswoman Barbara Barrett, wife of business executive Craig Barrett. Symington announced his primary campaign by stating, "I vowed to get state spending under control, reduce taxes and do my best to promote economic development and restore strength to the economy. I think I am in a strong position because I accomplished my goals." Barrett spent more than $1 million of her own money in the attempt to defeat Symington, who she stated she did not dislike personally, but simply felt that she could do a better job as governor.
On September 13, 1994, Symington defeated Barrett in the primary by a margin of 68% to 32%. Political analysts stated that Barrett had failed to distinguish herself from the incumbent governor, and ran a flawed campaign.
In the Democratic primary, 1990 Democratic gubernatorial nominee and former Phoenix Mayor Terry Goddard attempted to seek the Democratic nomination once again, but was challenged by Paul Johnson, who was also a former Mayor of Phoenix, and Arizona Board of Regents member Eddie Basha, more famous for his involvement with the grocery store chain Bashas'. In the primary held on September 13, Basha defeated Goddard by a very small margin, with Johnson receiving a sizable level of support as well.
Following the 1990 election, in which a run-off election was held in order to deter the possibility of a candidate winning with less than a plurality of all of the votes cast, as was the case with the 1986 election in which Evan Mecham was elected with only 39.96% of the vote, the 1994 election did not have a runoff. This was due to a measure that was approved by voters to eliminate the runoff system, which was marred by a longer than usual campaign and issues surrounding the date of when the runoff should be held.
|Republican||Fife Symington (inc.)||593,492||52.54%||+2.89%|
|Libertarian||John A. Buttrick||35,222||3.12%||+3.09%|
John Fife Symington III ( (listen); born August 12, 1945) is an American businessman and politician. In 1990, he was elected to serve the first of two consecutive terms as the 19th governor of Arizona. During his second term, Symington resigned from the office of governor, following a conviction on charges of extortion and bank fraud – a conviction which was later overturned. Prior to his entry into politics, Symington served in the United States Air Force and was stationed at Luke Air Force Base near Glendale, Arizona. He is a member of the Republican Party.
A native of Maryland, Symington attended the Gilman School in Baltimore, and subsequently graduated from Harvard University with a degree in Dutch art history. Symington comes from a political family; his father, J. Fife Symington Jr. was U.S. Ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago, and his cousin Stuart Symington was a U.S. Senator from Missouri. After joining the Air Force in 1967 and achieving the rank of Captain, Symington was awarded the Bronze Star for meritorious service, and was honorably discharged in 1971. He remained in Arizona, and became a real estate developer, founding his own company, the Symington Company, in 1976.
Symington was elected Governor in 1990 over Mayor of Phoenix Terry Goddard, following a close campaign that resulted in a runoff election. During his first term, Symington established charter schools in Arizona by signing sweeping education reform legislation, with the first charter schools opening in the state in 1995. The following year, during his second term, Symington signed legislation to establish the Arizona Water Bank Authority as a separate agency, allowing excess water to be acquired from the Central Arizona Project and banked in Arizona for future necessity. His term in office also oversaw the first temporary closure of Grand Canyon National Park during the federal government shutdown in November 1995. In 1997, Symington was convicted on seven counts of bank fraud, and resigned from office, but the convictions were later overturned. Before the government could retry him, Symington was pardoned in January 2001 by President Bill Clinton, whom he once saved from a rip tide off of Connecticut during his youth.
After his term as governor, Symington left public service and pursued a career as a chef, later co-founding the Arizona Culinary Institute with his business partners Jerry Moyes, Darren Leite and chef Robert E. Wilson. He has been speculated as a possible candidate for another term as Governor of Arizona, as well as considered running for the United States Senate, but has only endorsed candidates since leaving the Governor's office. Symington is also known as a witness to the infamous Phoenix Lights, a mass UFO sighting which occurred in Phoenix, Arizona on March 13, 1997.