Just a day after voters cast their ballots in the primary, Arizona’s top two choices for governor hit the ground running.
Republican Doug Ducey, and Democrat Fred DuVal made appearances across the Valley, selling strategy and campaign promises.
For DuVal, it could be an uphill battle. The former Arizona Board of Regents member ran unopposed in the primary, allowing him to build a sizable campaign war chest, but polls show voters across the state don’t know much about him. Polls also show he enjoys strong support among independents, now the state’s largest voting bloc. Capturing the support of unaffiliated voters, in a state often dominated by Republican politics, is DuVal’s central strategy.
“I’m an independent guy,” he said. “I'm a guy who has a 40 year track record of bringing people together, Republicans and Democrats, around strategic goals.”
With a state legislature likely controlled by the GOP, if elected, DuVal will certainly have to reach across the aisle.
DuVal takes what might be considered conservative positions on issues like school choice, but also supports overturning Governor Brewer’s executive order to deny driver’s licenses to deferred action immigrants. His middle-of-the road positioning has already attracted the support of Republicans. The DuVal campaign’s first TV ad features former Arizona Attorney General Grant Woods, who chaired Governor Brewer’s campaign, and has been a longtime supporter of Sen John McCain. “It’s what’s best for Arizona,” Woods said in the ad.
When asked if he would seek big name Democratic Party endorsements from President Obama, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi or Senator Harry Reid, DuVal wouldn’t commit, but did say he has no problem taking on his own party on important issues.
Republicans are working to paint DuVal as a liberal lobbyist trying to push President Obama’s agenda. The Republican Governor’s Association on Wednesday began running an attack ad of its own, accusing DuVal of driving up the cost of college for middle class families, noting tuition rates nearly doubled during DuVal’s tenure on the Board of Regents.
It appeared to be a direct attack on DuVal’s central campaign promise: no cuts to education. While he doesn’t support eliminating tax credits which have allowed thousands of Arizonans to re-direct their tax dollars to private schools, DuVal refuses to compromise on his core issue.
“I'm simply going to say to the legislature, governing is choosing. I am choosing no more cuts, and if I have to keep the legislature in session until Christmas, that's what I will do,” DuVal said. The candidate said his position is bolstered by the so-called “Cave Creek” decision. Just this month, a judge ordered the state to provide an additional $300 million in public school funding to allow for inflationary increases. Republicans vowed to fight the ruling.
DuVal enters the 10-week general election run with more money than his opponent, listing primary and general election funds totaling $1.2 million. Ducey’s reports show less than $600,000 in funds going into November. His campaign raised and spent more than $4 million in the primary.