As Gov. Doug Ducey burnishes his GOP credentials on pandemic and border, what comes next looms large

Photo: Gage Sizemore/Creative Commons

By Maria Polletta | Arizona Republic

2020 was a rocky year for Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey.

A global pandemic swiftly upended his agenda, putting him on the defensive and forcing him into crisis response mode. His handling of that pandemic — and its corresponding death toll — enraged Republicans and Democrats alike, spurring multiple efforts to remove him from office. 

His vocal opposition to Proposition 208, an education funding initiative that involved a tax hike, failed to sink the measure at the ballot box. And his certification of Arizona’s election results prompted the implosion of a years-long alliance with former President Donald Trump, who remains a key figure in the party.

“He’s been in a tough spot. I don’t envy him,” GOP consultant Lisa James said. “I think we’ve seen with many governors that one minute, you’re a hero, and the next minute, you’re not.”

After stepping back from the spotlight for a few months, perhaps to regroup, the governor appears to be ramping up efforts to repair his reputation with the Republican base. Over the last two weeks, he has seized on both the state’s improving COVID-19 numbers and the national fallout surrounding the migrant surge at the border — presumably to “mend some fences to his right” after a tumultuous 2020, political analysts said. 

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