Doug Ducey Won’t Seek Arizona Senate Seat as GOP Governors Opt Against RunsMarch 3, 2022
Republican elephant symbolISTOCKPHOTO
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey announced Thursday he won’t run for Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly’s seat in November, dealing another blow to Republicans who’ve sought to recruit several GOP governors to help them flip control of the Senate.
Ducey was seen as a top recruit for Senate GOP leadership, but the two-term governor declined to run for federal office, according to a letter he sent to donors that was obtained by The Arizona Republic. The chairman of the Republican Governors Association, who also attracted the ire of former President Donald Trump, ends his gubernatorial tenure in early 2023.
“If you’re going to run for public office, you have to really want the job,” Ducey wrote in his letter to donors. “Right now I have the job I want, and my intention is to close my years of service to Arizona with a very productive final legislative session AND to help elect Republican governors across the country in my role as chairman of the Republican Governors Association.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and other GOP leaders were pushing for Ducey to run for a seat Republicans view as a top priority. Kelly won a special election to the Senate in 2020 in a once reliably red state that has become a little bluer over the past few years. Republicans are hoping to reassert their dominance in Arizona, which is currently represented by two Democratic senators.
Cartoons on the Republican Party
Arizona is a large piece of the puzzle as Republicans seek to take back the Senate, which is in a 50-50 split and narrowly controlled by Democrats. Republicans are expected to make gains in November since the party of the president typically loses seats in midterm elections. And while Republicans have several prime pickup opportunities, Democrats also see some promising openings, including in seats vacated by GOP incumbents in Pennsylvania and North Carolina.
But Ducey, who had signaled for a while that he was uninterested in running for Senate, was facing intense backlash from Trump since the GOP governor pushed back against the former president’s claims of fraud in the 2020 election. Trump said he would never endorse Ducey for Senate and told McConnell to “save your time, money, and energy.”
While Ducey is passing on the Senate, a number of other GOP candidates are already running, including state Attorney General Mark Brnovich and venture capitalist Blake Masters, who is president of billionaire Peter Thiel’s foundation. Arizona’s filing deadline is April 4.
Ducey’s announcement follows similar decisions over the past year by other Republican governors who decided not to run for the Senate, including New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and Vermont Gov. Phil Scott.
While governors in much bluer states were longshots, Sununu was seen as a top recruit to take on Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan in a state where Republicans believe they can make more gains.
Like in other past election cycles, parties aim to recruit governors for higher office since they are frequently popular and have higher name recognition. Plus, governors – like Ducey and Hogan – often face term limits and the only other political promotion is for federal office.
Democrats have sought to highlight the string of recruitment defeats for top Senate seats.
“Once again, Senate Republicans’ recruitment efforts have failed, and their top potential candidates are refusing to run against strong Democratic Senators like Mark Kelly,” Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee spokesman Patrick Burgwinkle said.
“While Senate Democrats are fighting to lower costs for American families, potential Republican candidates know they cannot defend their party’s disastrous agenda of raising taxes, ending Medicare and Social Security, and pushing the interests of big corporations and the wealthiest few at the expense of working families,” he added, referencing the personal political agenda of Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, who is running Republicans’ Senate campaign committee for 2022.