Doug Ducey must unite GOP after bruising primary

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by Bob Christie, The Associated Press

GMAZ interview by Kaley O'Kelley and Scott Pasmore

Posted on August 27, 2014 at 8:51 AM

Updated Friday, Aug 29 at 6:56 AM

PHOENIX (AP) -- State treasurer and former ice cream chain CEO Doug Ducey campaigned from the middle and the far right, deftly gaining support from the business community and tea party supporters in his bid to win the Republican primary for Arizona governor.

Now the victor will need to unite a party fractured by a bitter six-way primary and move back to the middle if he is to defeat a moderate Democrat in the November general election.

Ducey rode to an easy 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.

But he also campaigned with a message to the far right of the party, slamming President Barack Obama on border security. He promised to use satellites and the National Guard to secure the border and touted support from hard-line conservatives such as Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

Ducey will face Democrat Fred DuVal, who was unopposed in the primary, in the November general election.

Ducey's victory was the biggest highlight on a night that saw the state's attorney general and chief education official lose their re-election fights.

Attorney General Tom Horne was defeated after three years of allegations of campaign finance violations, an FBI investigation and a hit-and-run where he pleaded no contest. He has denied wrongdoing in all of the allegations he faces.

Political newcomer Mark Brnovich now takes on Democrat Felecia Rotellini in a race Democrats believe they can win, red state or not.

Horne didn't concede Tuesday, holding out hope that uncounted votes will allow him to close the gap. He said he was up against an influx of "dark money" supporting his opponent, and acknowledged that the campaign finance allegations and FBI investigation hurt his campaign as well.

"It obviously played a role, but my point is that it was false," Horne said.

Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal also lost his GOP primary, derailed by his support for new Common Core education standards and revelations of anonymous racist and anti-poor blog postings that he tearfully apologized for making. Voters instead elected Diane Douglas, who campaigned to end Common Core and said she will continue that push.

"It's going to take the same as we did in the primary: Appeal to the moms and dads of Arizona," Douglas said in an interview after she was declared the winner. "They want control back over their children's education."

Democrats also think they have a chance to win that seat, electing a former education department administrator and current Arizona State University professor, David Garcia, over an underfunded challenger.

Garcia called Douglas a single-issue candidate without the necessary background in education for the post. He said he would work to get more funding and support for teachers.

Ducey, 50, 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 led former Mesa Mayor Scott Smith, 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."

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 bitter slugfest between Ducey, Smith and former GoDaddy executive Christine Jones, who finished third.

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

Associated Press reporters Astrid Galvan and Brady McCombs contributed.

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