Doug Ducey becomes Arizona governor on Monday

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

PHOENIX (AP) -- Republican Doug Ducey becomes Arizona's 23rd governor this week, ascending to the 9th floor of the state Capitol's executive tower amid the challenge of overcoming a budget shortfall while enacting an agenda that won him voter approval.

Ducey's inauguration at noon Monday marks the end of nearly a year of campaigning for the current state treasurer and former Cold Stone Creamery CEO, and with that comes the burdens of leadership that he's sought since leaving the corporate world in 2007 and entering politics.

Since his November election, he's been vague about how he'll manage the budget shortfall and has hesitated to fill in the blanks left in the talking points of his election stump speech. During the campaign, he promised to shrink state government, grow the economy, reform education and rework the state's new Common Core standards.

In an op-ed in Sunday's Arizona Republic, Ducey also promised more civility and respect within politics and policy.

"In every way I know, I plan to work as governor to make Arizona a more just, compassionate and welcoming place," Ducey wrote. "My plan is to focus on people, policies and outcomes that result in a better quality of life - more jobs and better opportunities for all Arizonans, today and for generations to come."

Top Republicans in the Legislature are hoping that Ducey meets their expectations on budget cuts, revamping education and cutting state regulation.

"I believe that for him working with the Legislature is a priority," Senate President Andy Biggs said in a recent interview. "I think he has an agenda that he wants to get through. And I think he recognizes that you have to have the Legislature's support."

Democrats too are hopeful, but for different reasons.

"I'm thinking that Gov. Ducey does have the integrity to govern, not just run for re-election," said Sen. Steve Farley, D-Tucson, the assistant minority leader. "So I think that he will not be as compliant as President Biggs and (new House Speaker David) Gowan think he might be - because he's going to make his own reputation," he said.

"He's not just going to go along with what President Biggs wants to do - he has ambitions beyond Arizona, that's clear - and if want to do that you have to govern from the pragmatic middle - and that's what the people of Arizona want."

Also on Ducey's plate are top-tier legal issues that outgoing Gov. Jan Brewer leaves behind - including a lawsuit filed by 36 Republican lawmakers challenging an assessment that pays for her Medicaid expansion proposal and a school funding lawsuit that the state lost.

Ducey will be joined on inauguration day by a new crop of Republicans in other statewide offices. The GOP swept every office from the governor to mine inspector.

The new leaders include Michele Reagan, who becomes secretary of state, Mark Brnovich as attorney general, Jeff Dewit as treasurer and Diane Douglas as superintendent of public instruction.

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