2. ARIZONA: Can Republicans convince Doug Ducey to run for the Senate, even though he says he’s not interested? The Arizona GOP is a shambles, having lost both of the state’s Senate seats in the last two years and the presidential vote last year for only the second time since 1948. The state party’s far-right faction, led by chairwoman Kelli Ward, has been ascendant, and it’s looking to purge mainstream voices, proposing censure of Trump-critical Republicans like Cindy McCain, Jeff Flake, and, yes, Doug Ducey. The governor’s sin, in the eyes of Arizona conservatives? Simply certifying the state’s election results.
Mindful of the activist anger against him, Ducey told The New York Times that he wasn’t going to be running for the Senate, even though he’s the party’s best hope to defeat newly elected Sen. Mark Kelly, who was one of Democrats’ strongest recruits last year. Ducey certainly could reconsider: Last year, Democrats convinced two governors (former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and Montana Gov. Steve Bullock) to run for the Senate even though they’d initially insisted they had no interest.
But without a brand-name contender like Ducey, Republicans risk nominating an extreme candidate who is unable to appeal to the Maricopa County suburbanites already drifting away from the Republican Party. Indeed, the drop-off from Ducey is quite significant. Arizona Republican insiders believe former Rep. Matt Salmon and Thiel Capital chief operating officer Blake Masters are interested in running for the Senate seat, with Ducey out of the picture. (Salmon unsuccessfully ran for governor in 2002, before the state became more politically competitive.)