Doug Ducey wins Republican governor primary

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by Bob Christie, Associated Press

azfamily.com

Posted on August 26, 2014 at 8:41 PM

Updated Thursday, Aug 28 at 11:34 AM

PHOENIX (AP) -- State treasurer and former CEO Doug Ducey won the Republican primary for Arizona governor Tuesday, easily riding to victory with a campaign that focused on his blend of government and business experience in serving as a state official and building an ice cream company into a national brand.

Ducey started Cold Stone Creamery in Arizona and built it into a well-known chain before selling the company in 2007 and getting into politics.

He has been state treasurer for the last four years, serving as the chief steward of Arizona's finances during a period that included the collapse of the housing market in the state.

Ducey, 50, led the nearest competitor in the six-candidate primary field by 15 percentage points, and quickly moved on to the general election, saying he was going to unite not only the party but all Arizonans.

"I want to be the governor for all the people, and in this campaign I will reach out to all the people," he said at a Republican Party rally in Phoenix. "You have my word that as the Republican nominee, I will keep giving this race the best that is in me, and I will earn the vote by showing the best that is in Arizona."

Ducey faces Democrat Fred DuVal, who was unopposed in the primary.

DuVal told a crowd at his party's primary night event that he would be honest and transparent as governor. "Whether you are a Republican or an independent or Democrat, as long as you are committed to education, job creation, and you're committed to cleaning up our government, you are welcome in this campaign," he said.

The race to replace Republican Gov. Jan Brewer began as a fairly quiet contest focused on health care and jobs before shifting abruptly when thousands of immigrant children began pouring into the country and some settled in Arizona.

In the quest for right-leaning Republican primary voters, the six candidates quickly staked out hard-line positions on immigration and repeatedly attacked the Obama administration for failing to secure the border.

The contest turned into a slugfest between Ducey, former GoDaddy executive Christine Jones and former Mesa Mayor Scott Smith.

"We wanted to have a message that was positive, a message about Arizona's future," Smith told supporters in a concession speech. "We fell a little short tonight ... Maybe it wasn't red meat, maybe it didn't fit the primary mold."

In an interview, Smith said he was proud to have done as well as he did, considering he was hit with negative advertising and vastly outspent by candidates with large personal fortunes.

"I'm not really into moral victories, but on this one I'm proud we ran a campaign that resonated with so many Arizonans even though we were at a severe disadvantage. It means our message had meaning," he said.

Ducey and Jones poured millions of their own cash into the race. Smith lagged in fundraising but had the endorsement of Brewer.

Brewer, who will leave office in January, embraced Ducey although she had campaigned vigorously for Smith.

"There is only one candidate who will fight federal overreach and Barack Obama's failed policies," Brewer said. "Let me be perfectly clear: I am a friend of Doug Ducey, and I wholeheartedly endorse him as Arizona's next governor."

Well behind Tuesday night were Secretary of State Ken Bennett, former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas and former California congressman Frank Riggs.

Ducey painted himself as the front-runner late in the race and cited a broad coalition of business and political leaders as supporters.

He now will need to act quickly to heal a party that was divided by the primary fight. Ducey, Jones and Smith have each been hit with attack ads, which can turn off voters.

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Doug Ducey leads early in Republican primary

PHOENIX (AP) -- State Treasurer Doug Ducey jumped out to an early lead Tuesday in the six-way race to win the Republican nomination for Arizona governor.

Early returns show Ducey with 37 percent of the vote, former internet executive Christine Jones with about 19 percent and former Mesa Mayor Scott Smith with 17 percent.

The race has been a slugfest between the three front-runners as Ducey and Jones poured millions of their own cash into the race. Smith lagged in fundraising but had the endorsement of Gov. Jan Brewer.

Well behind in the hunt Tuesday night were Secretary of State Ken Bennett, former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas and former California congressman Frank Riggs.

The winner faces Democrat Fred DuVal, who is unopposed in the primary.

The Republican candidates, meanwhile, have spent months vying to be the party's nominee, attending more than two dozen forums and debates and collectively spending more than $10 million on the race.

Becky Fenger, a retiree, said she supported Ducey and noted that she didn't like Smith and Jones for various reasons. "I would like to vote for Ken Bennett, an honest man but no pizazz," Fenger said. "Riggs does not have a shot in hell."

Ducey painted himself as the front-runner late in the race and cited a broad coalition of business and political leaders as supporters.

Bennett and Thomas ran with public funding, which gave them just over $750,000 for the primary.

Smith supports Brewer's Medicaid expansion plan, the new Common Core school standards and the governor's strategy for drawing new businesses to the state.

Smith's mayoral record was enough for Jenny Tobin, a Phoenix nurse. "I like the things he did in Mesa," Tobin said.

Ducey was ambivalent on Medicaid expansion and said it was likely to fail in the long term so the state needs to prepare. He supports alternatives to the state-run plan.

Jones embraced immigration as the biggest issue in the campaign, saying Arizona's borders need to be secured and that she'll use the National Guard to do it, then send President Barack Obama the bill. Ducey also said he would use the Guard. Smith called those promises empty, and said he'll urge lawmakers in Washington to handle the issue.

Rosemary Torres, a registered independent, said she passed up a chance to vote for Republican gubernatorial candidates and instead backed DuVal, in part, because of his service as chairman of the Arizona Board of Regents.

"It's about who has the most potential - who is going to be in there and address the issues and find the solutions," Torres said.

Ducey and Jones plan to attend the state GOP's election night party at a downtown Phoenix hotel, and Brewer plans to attend as well. Smith plans his own event in Mesa, while Bennett will be at his Phoenix campaign headquarters watching ballot returns and may head to the main GOP event.

Whoever wins the gubernatorial nomination will need to act quickly to heal a party that has been divided by the primary fight. Ducey, Jones and Smith have each been hit with attack ads, which can turn off voters.

Brewer said last week after an event for Smith that she hopes the party unites after the primary, no matter who wins.

"We all know that during a primary, things get kind of hot and heavy, and a lot of things are said," Brewer said. "And after Tuesday night, I hope we can all come together and be Republicans under one tent. That's what I would strive for."

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