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New Reagan Opponent Can't Get His Gripes Straight

Steve Montenegro announces his bid for secretary of state and becomes the first GOP challenger to Michele Reagan.

State Sen. Steve Montenegro is running for the Republican nomination for secretary of state, providing the first GOP challenge to incumbent Republican Michele Reagan.

Montenegro, a five-term state lawmaker from Goodyear, casts himself as a conservative alternative to Reagan, who he said came into office in 2015 "with a long and liberal voting record." She previously was a state lawmaker from Scottsdale.

Montenegro did not return a call to discuss his candidacy, but in a news release announcing his candidacy sent Thursday, he was critical of how Reagan has run her office.

"It¹s time for our state to have a Secretary of State who is committed to running our state¹s elections efficiently and properly," he wrote. He cited her office's efforts to build a new campaign-finance website, calling it "overdue and over budget."

He said she misprinted ballots, but the Secretary of State's Office doesn't oversee the printing of ballots; county recorders do.

Constantin Querard, a spokesman for Montenegro, said the senator probably meant Reagan had misprinted publicity pamphlets, but it was unclear what that refers to. Reagan is under investigation for failing to send out an election publicity pamphlet to 200,000 households last May, but they were not misprinted.

The Secretary of State's Office accepts filings and records from political candidates and for campaign-finance reports, business partnerships and advance directives, among other items. The office oversees the state library and archives, as well as the state museum. It's also the office next in line to the governor, and Arizona has a history of secretaries of state ascending to the top job.

Montenegro, 35, touted his conservative credentials, noting Americans for Prosperity has recognized him as a champion of taxpayers and pointing to his record of voting for anti-abortion, pro-family and pro-taxpayer legislation.

Montenegro is in his first Senate term after having served eight years in the House of Representatives. He works as a district representative for U.S. Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., and serves as a minister at Surprise Apostolic Church. He and his wife, Melissa, have one child, a daughter.

Reagan filed her paperwork to seek a second term as secretary of state last year. State Sen. Katie Hobbs, a Phoenix Democrat, announced her candidacy for the office earlier this month.