Doug Ducey should be the next governor of Arizona.
Ducey leads in the polls, is the state's very successful treasurer who led the effort to defeat a massive permanent tax hike, and is one of the founders of one of the state's pre-eminent business success stories: Cold Stone Creamery, which has become an international brand employing hundreds of thousands and opening the way for the success of thousands of small business owners over the two decades since it's launch in the late 1980s and early 1990s by Ducey and his colleagues.
So Ducey should win the GOP nomination and the general election, and a broad coalition of Republicans -- from Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, to Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah, former GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, talking head types like me and Dennis Prager, key state legislators and activists like Cathi Herrod and Tea Party Patriot founder Mark Meckler all have endorsed Ducey, as has Arizona's most potent political brand, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, "America's toughest sheriff" who joined the family of slain Border Patrol agent Brian Terry in backing Ducey.
"Sheriff Joe" spots are blanketing the state with the old lawman talking up Ducey as he looks straight into the camera: straight talk from the Desert State's straight shooter. Thus has Ducey built and maintained his lead: a big tent, big endorsements, excellent grassroots support and volunteers, and a businessman's focus on the bottom line of asking for votes everywhere. It has helped as well that his wonderful wife, Angela, and three boys are as tightly knit and photogenic as families can come and that the very Catholic Ducey can point to his Arizona State University education and his up-from-nothing and broken-family biography as he campaigns around the state.
That his godson is a starting defensive lineman for Ohio State University is overlooked by this PAC-12-crazy state as an interesting aberration.
But Arizona allows for independents to vote in primaries, and also has an erratic governor in Jan Brewer, who bought fully into Obamacare and wants a successor to defend her "legacy" of Medicaid expansion. Thus she has taped Mesa mayor and big government Republican Scott Smith to endorse despite Smith's enthusiastic embrace of Common Core and his vocal and high profile support of the job-killing emission limitations in the Kyoto Protocol, making for the strangest endorsement in the U.S. in 2014: The accidental governor blessing the liberal Republican who can only win the primary with votes that will be cast for the Democrat in the fall.
At the same time Bob Parsons, the billionaire founder of GoDaddy.com, which brought soft porn to the a Super Bowl, has blown millions on slimy Ducey attack ads to try and prop up Christine Jones, his former general counsel who has been revealed as a serial exaggerator of her past — including the mortal sin in this pro-military state of suggesting an Air Force career that didn't exist. Three minor conservative candidates are draining two and three percentage points each from Ducey's column as well, making the race much closer than it should be.
Thus did the center-left Arizona Republic find itself endorsing Ducey days before Sarah Palin did. Every serious center-right Republican and 95 percent of the conservatives will support Ducey as indeed the most respected man in Arizona, former Sen. Jon Kyl, has done. But the avalanche of negative ads from a billionaire political dilettante with a friend in the race combined with Democrats seeing in a Smith nomination the chance to snatch back this red state's state house has made Arizona the most interesting governor's race of 2014.
Voting started last week and will continue through Aug. 26, another idiosyncrasy in a state where temps could well reach 110 degrees every day of voting. Ducey should pull further and further away having survived the deluge and as the minor conservative candidates fade and their supporters ponder life under a Democratic governor again, but the barrage of lies and distortions keeps up on television and radio. The good news is that national pro-business and pro-border groups are stepping up to help Ducey and expose Smith even as Ms. GoDaddy Jones craters in the polls.
It's not called the Wild West for nothing, but when the six-way shootout is done in three weeks, Ducey will be the nominee and Arizona will have a governor the equal of any other in the U.S. and this very red state will stay the course in 2016.Hugh Hewitt is a nationally syndicated talk radio host, law professor at Chapman University's Fowler School of Law, and author, most recently of The Happiest Life. He posts daily at HughHewitt.com and is on Twitter @hughhewitt.