Three days after State Treasure Doug Ducey topped a six-candidate field to win their nomination for governor, Arizona Republicans are beginning to feel confident he will hold onto the office that just a few months ago seemed even money to fall to the Democrats.
"Doug got started earlier than any of his opponents and did a fantastic job of organizing his campaign," former State GOP Chairman Bob Fannin told Newsmax, "and he lined up support from the business community and other people such as the active grass-roots foot soldiers."
Along with former Sen. Jon Kyl and the president of the state Chamber of Commerce, Fannin came out for Ducey early. Also in the Ducey corner were conservative figures who appeal more to the tea party and anti-establishment activists within the Grand Canyon State GOP. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, and Sarah Palin (who now spends most of her time at her Arizona residence) all weighed in for Ducey.
With several precincts still to be counted, Ducey rolled up 36 percent of the vote to 22 percent for runner-up and Mesa Mayor Scott Smith. They were followed by former GoDaddy Internet services executive Christine Jones (19 percent), Secretary of State Ken Bennett (12 percent) and two others.
What makes Ducey win particularly impressive was the firepower in the camps of his two nearest rivals. Smith had the strong endorsement of outgoing GOP Gov. Jan Brewer and Jones was backed by a seven-figure independent expenditure launched by GoDaddy founder Bob Parsons.
The founder of the Cold Stone Creamery that is today a national chain of ice cream parlors, Ducey promised to run state government in the same manner as his business. In addition, he took a hard-line stand on illegal immigration and called for "fencing, satellite, guardsmen, more police and prosecutors" to secure the border.
The priority given to the illegal immigration issue by The New York Times on the Saturday before the voting, Aug. 24, with the headline: "As Primary Nears, Governor Candidates Turn Eyes to Border."
"And why shouldn't they give a priority to illegal immigration, when it's costing taxpayers here a minimum of $2 billion a year?" former State Republican Chairman Randy Pullen told us. "Perhaps it wouldn't be so bad if Mexico and some of the other countries where they are coming from would agree to reimburse us that amount."
In February, a PPP poll among likely voters statewide showed Fred DuVal, certain Democratic nominee and a member of the Arizona Board of Regents (which oversees three state university systems), defeating Ducey by a margin of 36 percent to 35 percent. A Susquehanna Poll showed similar results, with Ducey edging DuVal by 36 percent to 33 percent.
DuVal, who worked on the staffs of Bill Clinton and former Arizona Gov. and Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt, was hoping to benefit from independents and more moderate Republicans disillusioned with the GOP selecting a conservative for governor. Crossing party lines to help him was former Republican state Attorney General Grant Woods, a close friend of DuVal's since they were classmates at Occidental College in California.
But Both Smith and Jones came out with strong statements of support for newly-minted nominee Ducey on the day after the primary. This Republican unity is clearly not what was wanted or expected by the Democratic nominee .
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