How Arizona’s gubernatorial race became an 'emerging proxy fight' between Trump and Doug Ducey

How Arizona’s gubernatorial race became an 'emerging proxy fight' between Trump and Doug Ducey
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Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey is among the conservative Republicans who former President Donald Trump angrily turned against following the 2020 presidential election. Ducey’s cardinal sin, in Trump’s mind, was refusing to go along with Big Lie and acknowledging that President Joe Biden won the state fairly.

The tension between Trump and Ducey, who Trump slams as a RINO (Republican In Name Only) remain. And according to Politico reporter Alex Isenstadt, that tension is playing out in Arizona’s 2022 Republican gubernatorial primary.

In an article published by Politico on July 12, Isenstadt describes the primary as an “emerging proxy fight between” Trump and Ducey. The two-term Arizona governor, who is term-limited, has endorsed wealthy GOP donor Karrin Taylor Robson, while Trump has endorsed the ultra-MAGA Kari Lake — a far-right “Stop the Steal” extremist and conspiracy theorist along the lines of Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado. Lake is campaigning on the Big Lie and falsely claims that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump — a thoroughly debunked claim that even former U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr has described as “bullshit.”

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“The primary is the latest point of contention between Trump and Ducey,” Isenstadt explains. “The former president has repeatedly assailed the Arizona governor for refusing to overturn the 2020 election outcome in Arizona, which President Joe Biden won narrowly. After the election, Ducey was famously seen putting the former president to voicemail while signing papers certifying Biden’s victory.”

The Politico reporter continues, “The contest to succeed the term-limited Ducey as governor has revolved around the 2020 campaign. Lake, a former local TV news anchor, has echoed Trump’s ongoing lie that the election was stolen and made it the centerpiece of her campaign. Robson, meanwhile, has not joined other Arizona Republicans in falsely saying Trump won the state.”

Isenstadt notes that during a recent primary debate, Lake “challenged Robson and the other candidates to say” the 2020 presidential election “was stolen.” But Robson “refused to say so, instead remarking that she wouldn’t play into Lake’s ‘stunt.’”

Robson clearly plans to campaign hard for Robson. On Monday morning, July 11, according to Isenstadt, Ducey “held a conference call with donors in which he encouraged them to get behind Robson.”

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Meanwhile, on the Democratic side, Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs has been campaigning aggressively against the Big Lie and for voting rights. If Democrat Hobbs and MAGA Republican Lake are the nominees of their parties — which remains to be seen — the general election could include some testy debates on voting rights and the 2020 election. And Hobbs has demonstrated that she can be a tough, focused debater.

In an op-ed published by the Washington Post on June 14, 2021, Hobbs declared, “Voter-suppression efforts in Arizona are part of a nationwide dismantling of voting rights — the most sustained and egregious assault on U.S. democracy since the Jim Crow era.”

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