Of the six elected statewide offices in Arizona, being state treasurer has been called the least glamorous.
The office demands meticulous attention to the state budget, investments, and tax revenues.
Three Republicans are vying for the treasurer’s office. Former Tempe Mayor Hugh Hallman, former Arizona Republican Party Chairman Randy Pullen, and Jeff DeWit, a stock broker and former CEO of ECHOtrade.
Voters often overlook the treasurer’s race - it’s not as high profile as being governor or attorney general. And many people even admit they don’t know exactly what the state treasurer does.
Jim Nintzel, who writes about politics for the Tucson Weekly, said the office acts as a bank for state revenue.
“The treasurer has the job of overseeing all the funds that come into the state and also how to figure out how to best invest those funds. They don’t really balance the state budget, but they do keep an eye on all the different funds coming into the state," Nitzel said.
As the mayor of Tempe for eight years, Hallman said he guided the city through the recession, turning it into one of the few municipalities in the state with a surplus.
“While doubling the reserves during good times, I worked to cut our budget...we reduced...by almost 18 percent in my eight year tenure. To improve services is what I really focused on so that by the time I left office Tempe was not just one of the highest performing cities in the state, it was one of the highest performing in the country," he said.
Hallman admitted the treasurer’s job description may not sound interesting to many voters, but he said the position is the financial backbone of state government.
“The treasurer’s office and the job the treasurer fulfills is, by most people’s view, pretty boring," he said. "I get that. But I bring a set of talents to that job that will serve Arizonans well and my hope is that as people make their way down the ballot, they’ll remember that the treasurer’s job is vitally important to how this state is managed.”
As the only candidate in the treasurer’s race with experience as an accountant, Pullen said his background as a certified public accountant and former state GOP Chairman gives him a unique set of skills for the office.
“I’m a CPA, former partner with Deloitte and Touche international accounting firm, 38 years of financial experience doing everything from starting up companies, reorganizing, auditing. Given my skill set, knowledge and experience, that’s a perfect match for being treasurer," he said.
Gov. Jan Brewer and Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio have endorsed Pullen. He said voters should rely on those endorsements as proof of his character.
DeWit is a political newcomer in Arizona. He said his 21 years of experience in investment will allow him to bring back better returns on state money.
“We have about $13 billion in state investments under management at the state treasurer’s office. What I like to say is, the better the state treasurer does, the less Arizona needs of our taxes. So it’s very important that we elect someone who understands finance," he said.
In a recent televised debate in Phoenix, the candidates exchanged heated words, continuing to argue even after the cameras were turned off.
DeWit said the treasurer’s race is far more contentious than voters may realize.
“The treasurer’s race is probably the most interesting race we have," DeWit said. "It doesn’t get all the attention of the other races, and there’s so much going on that the treasurer’s race isn’t usually one that gets attention. We don’t have debates, we put on a show. The three of us couldn’t be more different than one another. I’ve never run for office before, but I don’t think we need a politician handling Arizona’s checkbook.”
Voters will decide who will be the Republican nominee for state treasurer Aug. 26. The winner will go against Democratic write-in candidate Gerard Davis.