By Natalie. Allison | POLITICO
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey declared in January 2021 that he was “100 percent” focused on his current job and uninterested in a bid for Senate. But speculation among state political insiders that Ducey is plotting a late entry into the Senate race has escalated in recent weeks — a development that would scramble a contest that is pivotal to the battle for the Senate majority.
The term-limited Republican governor, now in his last year of office, has not said anything publicly that suggests he has changed his mind. The Aug. 2 GOP primary to take on Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly is well underway as state Attorney General Mark Brnovich, venture capitalist Blake Masters, solar power executive Jim Lamon and state emergency leader Mick McGuire compete for the nomination, a race that has already generated millions of dollars in Republican ad spending.
Ducey’s final State of the State address on Monday, however, left the Arizona State Capitol Complex abuzz after the governor used the speech to repeatedly criticize the federal government. His address included six mentions of Washington, D.C., along with sustained attacks on President Joe Biden and his administration — the kind of broadsides more likely to come from a candidate for federal office than a governor outlining his final state legislative agenda.
To many Arizona Republicans, he didn’t sound like a man who believes his political career is winding down this year.
National Republicans have continued to hold out hope that the governor would reconsider his decision. Ducey has won statewide office three times, including as state treasurer. He also has across-the-board name recognition and a well-oiled campaign infrastructure. Just as important, as Kelly starts the year with nearly $20 million on hand, Ducey has honed his fundraising skills and amassed a network of national donors after serving the past year as chair of the Republican Governors Association.