Trump praised his restaurant. Now Jorge Rivas seeks the GOP nomination for AZ governor – The Arizona Republic

The creator of the MAGA burger wants to be Arizona’s next Republican governor.

Jorge Rivas is a restaurant owner who hasn’t held public office before, but you might recognize his name. Rivas and his wife Betty were catapulted into the national spotlight after attending a Donald Trump rally last year, prompting a backlash that included threats of boycotts.

Then, Trump’s ringing endorsement on Twitter — “The food is GREAT at Sammy’s Mexican Grill” — boosted business at Rivas’ restaurant north of Tucson. 

Rivas hopes Trump’s celebrity power could help him again, this time getting to the Governor’s Office.

The business owner and immigrant, who officially launched his campaign on Saturday, described himself as an outsider candidate free from political obligations. 

“I do want to do great things for the state,” he said. “I have the support of people that, once I’m elected, they are not going to be breathing on my neck, asking me, ‘Well now you got to do this because we helped you.'”

Rivas said he would work to bring financial benefits to the state’s Black and Latino residents, saying they often feel left out by politicians. He said he would expand secondary education opportunities for children, including colleges and trade schools.

“We need to have law and order in our society, we need to support our law enforcement,” Rivas said in a Tuesday phone interview. “Because if we don’t have law and order, that means that the bad guys are going to come in. The bad guys are going to take over.”

Rivas joins an already crowded field of candidates seeking the Republican nomination 11 months ahead of the primary election.

Kari Lake, a former television news anchor for Fox in Phoenix, and Steve Gaynor, a businessman, also are running as outsider candidates. State Treasurer Kimberly Yee, former Congressman Matt Salmon and former regent Karrin Taylor Robson come to the race with a background in politics and public service.

Arizonans will elect their next governor in November 2022. Gov. Doug Ducey, who was first elected in 2014, is term-limited, leaving an open seat.

Rivas emigrated from El Salvador in the mid-1980s. In the mid-1990s, he and his wife began their restaurant business, eventually building the current location in Catalina north of Tucson. Both are longtime Trump supporters, and their menu includes a MAGA burger, an homage to Trump’s 2016 campaign slogan to Make American Great Again.

The double-angus burger is stacked with bacon, Sammy’s sauce, cheese, lettuce, jalapenos and spring mix lettuce.

“We sell the MAGA burger all the time,” Rivas said. “It’s very popular.”

Reach reporter Stacey Barchenger at stacey.barchenger@gannett.com or 480-416-5669.

Support local journalism. Subscribe to azcentral.com today.