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Is politics next for retiring Arizona National Guard Adjutant General Michael McGuire?

Michael T McGuire
Posted at 9:27 PM, Mar 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-09 23:27:33-05

PHOENIX — National Guard Adjutant General Michael McGuire is one of the faces of Arizona’s pandemic response.

He is often at the microphone whenever Governor Ducey gives his COVID-19 briefings. McGuire was tasked with telling the Guard’s story of dealing with the logistical challenges of the pandemic.

Last week, after 38 years in uniform, Major General Michael McGuire announced he will retire from the Arizona National Guard.

“I had a long career in public service. I will look at all the options to serve. Does that make sense? Service is in my blood,” McGuire said after sending off members of the C-12 Fixed Wing Detachment for a tour of duty in the Middle East on Friday.

Those who know McGuire well believe he is now planning the next chapter of his life, and a political future will be a serious consideration. Political consultant Stan Barnes thinks it ought to be.

“What he’s got going for him is tremendous credibility and presence,” Barnes said. “He’s got a lot to brag about and a lot to say. Assuming he’s in the Republican primary, he brings the imprimatur of the military, which is a very important component of the Republican constituency.”

“I asked him a couple of times if he would run for governor,” Wendy Smith-Reeve laughed. Smith-Reeve worked side-by-side with General McGuire for seven years in her role as Director of the Arizona Division of Emergency Management. “He has a phenomenal understanding of history, of this country, and where we can be in the future. He has vision and I’d love to see that play out,” Smith-Reeve said.

As director of the Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs, General McGuire leads Arizona’s logistical response to COVID-19.

He authorized guardsmen to restock grocery store shelves during the early days of the pandemic and to distribute personal protection equipment to remote areas of the state, a mission the guard continues to do today.

“So he’s immediately a very serious candidate for any office he would want to run for,” Barnes says.

Barnes believes General McGuire can have an immediate impact on Arizona Republican politics in 2022. His name was included in a recent poll done by Data Orbital for Congressman Andy Biggs. Biggs is considering a run against Senator Mark Kelly in 2022.

Biggs was the overwhelming favorite of Republican voters. But McGuire, who has little name recognition to this point, did poll higher than several other potential candidates, including former Arizona Speaker of the House and Governor Ducey Chief of Staff Kirk Adams.

“He’s going to face the same challenges anyone else will,” Barnes said. “He’ll need to raise money so he can contact voters, so he can explain who he is and why he’s better than the next guy.”

Raising money will be no easy feat. The Kelly-McSally campaigns spent $171 million in their race. For any candidate starting at zero, that will be a very high mountain to climb.