Spotlight: Arizona Treasurer Kimberly Yee

David SchwartzJanuary 11, 2023
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Photography by Brandon Tigrett
Photography by Brandon Tigrett

Copper State Paymaster

Arizona Treasurer Kimberly Yee notched a rare win for state-level  Republicans in the 2022 election, the only GOP candidate to win one of the state’s top four jobs and the only candidate, period, to win by double digits. Coincidence or not, she was also the lone representative of the GOP cohort who did not receive an endorsement from former U.S. President Donald Trump. The ex-state lawmaker, who was the first Asian American woman elected to the Arizona Legislature, sought re-election after briefly campaigning for governor last winter – a campaign she terminated when it became evident that MAGA voters would dominate the GOP primary. “I’m a numbers person, and someone who reads the black and white,” Yee says of her decision to drop from the race. With her centrist messaging and decisive general election win, Yee, 48, may represent a path forward for Arizona Republicans – particularly in 2026, when she terms out and the GOP looks for someone to challenge Democratic incumbent Katie Hobbs.   

Could you explain your decision to leave the governor’s race last January?

I thought the best decision for me and for the people of Arizona was to continue my work for another four years as the state treasurer. I felt that in this time of financial uncertainty, not only in the country, but here in the state, we really need to have an experienced hand at the wheel. It really does make a difference in how we manage the money in the Arizona treasury. It touches not only the state and its investments … but also our local governments. We’ve seen great growth even during the pandemic, and I wanted that to continue.

Did you feel pressure to move to the right to solidify Republican support in the election?

No. I was consistent with my message throughout my primary and my general. And that was because I stayed focused on traditional Republican issues, which are the economy, our security and helping families afford food on their table. And of course, having a strong education system. Those are the things I talked about in the primary, and I did change that during the general election … You represent a very diverse electorate. You represent the people of Arizona regardless of their party affiliation, and you have to talk about core issues and focus directly on what matters.

Politics aside, what are a few of your favorite local haunts?

I love a good Chinese restaurant, so one of my favorite places for dim sum is the Great Wall [Cuisine]. It’s been there for years, and during COVID they expanded because they were so busy, they had so many people in line on the weekends. I also had the pleasure of doing the ribbon-cutting for [Raising] Cane’s when they first opened around [the late] Metrocenter mall in my former legislative district. My kids love chicken fingers. We go through the drive-thru with the family. And I have a sweet tooth, everything from Bundt cakes to dark chocolate. Cerreta’s [Cerreta Candy Company] is actually one of my favorite places – it’s local and it’s been in historic Glendale forever… They have the best French mints.

What’s in store for you in the future? 

This is a very important time, not only to heighten the awareness of what the treasurer does… but it’s also an opportunity to expand that platform. Being the highest-ranking Republican in Arizona, I will have the responsibility of talking about our conservative issues among Republican leaders. That means we will be talking about how we are going to continue to grow our economy and decrease regulations and ensure that we have a free, competitive market in Arizona that allows businesses to grow but also thrive. 

Do you see a governor’s run down the road?

I am always open to what God wants me to do and the doors that he leaves open for me. We’ll take a look at that when the time comes.


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