Arizona governor’s tenure defined by push right, Trump feud

PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey beamed as an excavator’s heavy claw smashed by the home windows of an outdated state workplace constructing and started tearing off the façade.

In one in all his final public appearances in mid-December, the outgoing Republican governor watched the bodily manifestation of a challenge that has outlined his eight-year tenure: tearing down state authorities.

Ducey additionally reduce taxes, vastly expanded faculty selection, restricted abortion and constructed a makeshift wall on the U.S.-Mexico border in defiance of a Democratic president, checking nearly each conservative field.

At a time when the conservative motion is sort of singularly oriented round “proudly owning the libs,” Ducey spent his two phrases outmaneuvering Democrats to advance Republican priorities, reshaping his state in a decisively conservative route.

But he leaves workplace Monday with a restricted nationwide profile and the enmity of GOP foot troopers much less within the pile of issues he completed than the one factor he wouldn’t do: overturn then-President Donald Trump’s defeat within the state’s 2020 election.

“Ducey actually gave the highway map of the right way to govern, the right way to keep comparatively fashionable and get issues accomplished,” mentioned Mike Noble, a Phoenix-based pollster who used to work for Republicans and now focuses on nonpartisan surveys.

Democrat Katie Hobbs is changing into governor, however a Republican-controlled Legislature will restrict her capability to undo a lot of what Ducey enacted. Ducey’s most popular successor, businesswoman Karrin Taylor Robson, misplaced the GOP main to Trump-backed former tv anchor Kari Lake, who rose to prominence on the correct as a fierce proponent of Trump’s election lies.

Ducey supplied a tepid endorsement of all the Republican slate however didn’t marketing campaign with Lake, who misplaced narrowly to Hobbs and continues to say the election was marred by intentional misconduct. She regularly attacked Ducey on her solution to successful the GOP nomination.

The governor additionally feuded overtly with Kelli Ward, the state GOP chair. However regardless of the dominance of Lake and Ward within the present state GOP, he performs down their significance.

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“They’re inconsequential and have zero energy,” Ducey advised The Related Press in an interview Thursday.

Ducey has mentioned little about his plans after leaving the governor’s workplace. He’s typically talked about as a top-ticket recruit for Arizona’s 2024 Senate race or as a dark-horse candidate for president or vp — if the GOP is occupied with his model of limited-government conservatism.

He rejected a recruitment effort by institution Republicans to run towards Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly, who was reelected in November. Ducey additionally has largely eschewed the social media taunts that helped Republicans equivalent to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis construct a nationwide profile.

Ducey supplied his most candid evaluation of the trendy GOP in a September speech on the Ronald Reagan President Library and Museum. The governor warned that “a harmful pressure of huge authorities activism has taken maintain” throughout the social gathering and he lamented {that a} phase of the conservative motion is pushed by anger as a substitute of substance.

“I have a look at the social gathering and fear that candidates are extra outlined by their attitudes than the insurance policies they suggest,” Ducey mentioned. “And sure, many small-government conservatives have morphed into bullies — people who find themselves very comfy utilizing authorities energy to inform corporations and other people the right way to stay their lives.”

Ducey walked a tightrope throughout Trump’s presidency, initially forging a powerful alliance with him and by no means issuing public criticism, even when his tweets or border insurance policies threatened to be problematic for Arizona.

However their relationship crumbled stay on tv, when Ducey silenced a name from Trump — signified by a “Hail to the Chief” ring tone — because the governor signed the paperwork certifying Democrat Joe Biden’s slim presidential victory in Arizona. Trump extra not too long ago referred to as Ducey “one of many worst governors in America.”

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Democrats, together with state Sen. Martín Quezada, say Ducey might have accomplished extra to assist stop Trump’s lies in regards to the 2020 election from taking root within the state Republican Social gathering.

Ducey prevented, for instance, weighing in on an unprecedented partisan overview of the 2020 election carried out by Trump supporters on behalf of Senate Republicans, an episode that grew to become a extensively mocked spectacle. He additionally raised thousands and thousands of {dollars} for among the most excessive voices within the Legislature to maintain a GOP majority.

“He might have been a frontrunner and stood on a platform and mentioned, ‘Our elections are protected, our elections are safe and other people can belief our election system,’” Quezada mentioned. “That’s a chance he actually missed.”

Democrats additionally fault Ducey for being sluggish to revive cash for colleges because the state rebounded from the Nice Recession. Meager funding and stagnant wages led to a instructor walkout in 2018, culminating in a 20% increase for lecturers that was brokered by Ducey. He took warmth from the left for quickly lifting his COVID-19 restrictions, which was adopted by a right away surge of deaths in the summertime of 2020.

Ducey mentioned his strategy to election denialism is to “deal with it with info” and acknowledge that there are “superb individuals who have been misled.”

“Generally you want a ‘clear up on aisle 9’ to focus the thoughts,” he mentioned. “And I do suppose the candidates that you just noticed specializing in the long run, fairly than trying within the rearview mirror and speaking in regards to the previous, had been those that had nice success.”

Throughout his tenure, Ducey notched victories for almost each piece of the conservative coalition that outlined the GOP earlier than Trump’s 2016 victory reshaped the social gathering’s tone and focus.

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He signed a first-in-the-nation common faculty voucher regulation, which lawmakers authorised simply two years after voters decisively rejected a much less formidable measure.

He backed new restrictions on abortion 12 months after 12 months, together with a ban on terminating pregnancies after 15 weeks gestational age. A state appeals courtroom dominated Friday the regulation takes priority over a close to whole abortion ban that dates to the Civil Warfare.

He expanded the state Supreme Court docket and packed it with conservatives, making a legacy that may endure lengthy after he leaves workplace and will additional constrain Hobbs’ ambitions. He rejects comparisons to a push by liberals to develop the U.S. Supreme Court docket as a result of, he says, Arizona’s excessive courtroom was all the time anticipated to develop with the state.

He presided over a diversification of the state’s economic system, liberally providing tax breaks and a hands-off authorities to know-how corporations and producers. He inherited an enormous funds deficit in 2015 and leaves with a file surplus that allowed him to chop taxes.

A local of Toledo, Ohio, Ducey graduated from Arizona State College and went on to run Chilly Stone Creamery, which he constructed from a neighborhood ice cream store close to his alma mater right into a franchised nationwide model.

He offered the enterprise and turned to politics, getting elected state treasurer in 2010 and governor 4 years later.

As head of the Republican Governors Affiliation, Ducey constructed his profile amongst conservative donors and GOP political operatives, relationships that might be helpful if he decides to run for one more workplace.

Ducey mentioned he is nonetheless contemplating his subsequent transfer and didn’t rule out one other run for elected workplace, including, “I do suppose I’ve received one other act or two in me.”

“I’ve beloved being a part of the conservative trigger, and I care about it vastly,” Ducey mentioned. “So I’m open-minded to what’s subsequent.”