Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Arizona Governor- Race of the Day

98 Days Until Election Day

Arizona Governor

Status: Republican Incumbent
2016 Presidential Result: Red State (West)

Outlook: Leans Republican

Four years ago, then State Treasurer Doug Ducey, with a very impressive business background, emerged from a crowded Republican primary and then won the general election by double digits to keep the Governorship's in his party's hands. The major difference was that Ducey became the first male Governor in almost 17 years. Before he took office, four of the last five Governors of Arizona had been women.

The state is both traditionally Republican and one where the GOP seemed to grow in strength during the Obama years. This year though, Ducey is finding himself perhaps facing some more political difficulty than expected, even a few months ago. It remains to be seen whether the eventual Democrat nominee, to be chosen over a month from now in a primary will be able to generate enough support in a state where the party has been disappointed before, but in the Valley of the Sun, Ducey may have to sweat out his reelection at least a little bit more than his initial victory.

In 2014 Ducey won a crowded Republican primary for Governor, with some establishment support, but also as someone looked upon very favorably by Tea Party sympathizers in the state. The distant fourth place finisher in that primary was Secretary of State Ken Bennett, a strong conservative in elected office, but a candidate for Governor who played up his "nice guy" persona and potential bipartisan appeal. It seems as if Bennett has not gotten over his defeat to Ducey, as to the surprise of many in the state, he is challenging the incumbent in the August primary, and this time, seems to be willing to exert some sharper edges. While his campaign resources will lag well behind Ducey, Bennett seems to be trying to throw anything possible against his rival, and public dissatisfaction with the Governor on education issues is said to be one of the main issues.

Since becoming Governor, Ducey has taken on a bit more of a mainstream Republican approach than some conservative activists in the state expected. He has shown a tremendous amount of respect to the state's Republican Senator John McCain, especially as he battles devastating brain cancer.  Ducey went on Twitter and praised McCain for opposing a Senate version of the Obamacare repeal that was being strongly pushed by Donald Trump and other Republicans in Washington. Needless to say, there is much division in the Arizona GOP these days and a lot of animus against Senators McCain and Jeff Flake.

Ducey is someone who would have the responsibility of picking a replacement for McCain if the Senator were to resign or pass away. Many Trump supporters across the country have wanted this to happen for some time and some right-wing figures in the state party have actively angled for an appointment. Ducey has publicly stated that he finds that sort of maneuvering to be distasteful and basically disqualifying. Many have speculated that Ducey intends to appoint McCain's wife Cindy to the seat if a vacancy were to occur. Bennett, a past ally of McCain, has jumped on this and his main talking point in this year's Gubernatorial primary seems to be that he will not (or would not) appoint Cindy McCain to the Senate. This might have had an effect in helping him. A statewide poll from last month shows Ducey leading Bennett 44-22. That indicates that the incumbent is the favorite to win renomination, but with so many opposed, including undecideds, that is hardly a sign of strength. His statewide job approval rating in this survey was just 31 percent, making him a good deal less popular than Donald Trump. Ducey's team insists that those numbers are not accurate. If the current President were to decide to involve himself in this race and Tweet in favor of Ducey's opponent, the Governor's primary problem will increase tenfold. In a state where the illegal immigration issue is so heated, Ducey has had to walk a tight-rope as to how supportive he can be over Trump's policies on those issues. He has criticized the child separation policy at the border but has maintained that National Guard Troops from his state will control to assist at the border.

That June poll showed a noticeable snapshot for the three major Democrats in the race as well. David Garcia an Arizona State University professor whom in 2014 received the most votes in the state for his party as the losing candidate for Superintendent of Public Instruction, was leading with 30 percent. Trailing behind were State Senator Steve Farley with 13 percent and Kelly Fryer, a first time candidate who is a nonprofit executive and political activist at 9 percent. Nearly half of Democrats were undecided.

Both Garcia, an Hispanic candidate, and Fryer, a minister,  who is married to another woman, seem to be appealing to the party's liberal base while the wonkish Farley has attracted much of the state's establishment Old Guard Democrats with their endorsement and he is stressing his ability to achieve crossover Republican votes.

Some early general election polls show a virtual dead heat between Ducey and both Garcia and Farley. There do not seem to be any polls matching the incumbent up against Fryer or gaging how Bennett would fare against the Democrats.

Clearly, much in this race will depend on whom eventually wins the primaries and if the parties can quickly unite behind the winners for relatively short general election campaign. It would be a major upset if Ducey loses renomination, but in a general election there is the potential that he might be teamed up with a polarizing United States Senate nominee from his party, or if he has to unfortunately choose someone to fill the other Senate seat, if that is controversial within the party.

There will likely be substantially more energy into the upstart progressive campaigns of Garcia and Farley, but they may eventually prove to be too liberal for the state as a whole. Farley might be a better fit, but in turn, he might not generate as much enthusiasm among the state's Hispanic voters or college students.

Recent political history in Arizona has shown that races that look close in the polls in the summer break in the fall for Republicans pretty heavily. That may or may not be the case this year, but Ducey should still be considered the favorite and seems lucky to not have an eventual opponent that is the strongest possible political talent. It might also be good for him that the race for an open U.S. Senate seat in the state will probably generate more headlines.

Gubernatorial Races predicted thus far:

0 D, 3 R (1 Safe, 1 Leans, 1 Tossup)

Total with predictions thus far:

7 D (7 holdovers), 10 R (7 holdovers, 1 Safe, 1 Leans, 1 Tossup)


At 4:26 PM, Blogger Steve Boudreaux said...

Ducey will win reelection.


Post a Comment

<< Home