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Doug Ducey wins 2nd term as Arizona governor

Incumbent Gov. Doug Ducey will return for a second term in office, defeating Democratic challenger David Garcia by a large margin.
Ducey led by more than a quarter-million votes in the early count, up 58-38 over the Democrat.

Ducey, Garcia and the Green Party’s Angel Torres, a former Teamster official, campaigned for months on similar issues including education, border security and the economy, but with different solutions.

In interviews with Cronkite News, Ducey and Garcia focused on education as their main priority. Garcia touted his experience in education as an associate professor at Arizona State University, saying Arizona’s educators trust him more than Ducey, who was the CEO of Cold Stone Creamery before taking office.

Under Ducey, Arizona has become America’s leader in school choice, but at a cost, according to The Arizona Republic editorial board. But a 2018 WalletHub study, which considered test scores, dropout rates, funding and student safety, put the state’s public school system at 47th in the country.

Ducey has supported such policies as Proposition 305, which would expand a voucher program that allows parents to pay for private schooling with tax dollars. Critics say the measure likely would siphon funds from public schools, which already are underfunded. Garcia has supported eliminating the seven-year-old voucher program and focusing on improving public schools.

Border policy has been another sticking point, with Ducey praising the results of his Border Strike Force, an initiative that combines collaborative intelligence operations with border patrolling. Ducey said it has stopped drugs and criminals from entering the country since it began in 2015. According to azcentral.com, there isn’t enough information or data about what they do to determine how effective the force has been.

Attack ads targeting Garcia have focused on his criticisms of President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall. He told Democrats at a convention to imagine a wall-less Arizona, according to KTAR. He also called for reforms to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, according to Arizona Capitol Times.

Ducey stressed his strong relationship-building with Mexico.

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Ducey has been able to campaign on his accomplishments, which include growing Arizona’s economy. According to an analysis by Capitol Media Services, employment has increased more under his administration than under the previous administration. Arizona’s job growth is better than California’s but worse than Utah’s, according to the article.

However, Arizona Republic columnist Robert Robb questioned how much Ducey’s policies affected the economy, as opposed to his predecessor’s policies.

Garcia has touted his refusal to take campaign money from private companies, according to phoenixnewtimes.com. But his campaign raised less than a third of Ducey’s finances, according to azcentral.com. To try to make up for this, Garcia relied on young and minority voters. Registration among young voters has increased this election cycle, but they are still the lowest participating age group, according to Cronkite News.

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Anya Magnuson/Cronkite News

Gov. Doug Ducey addresses a jubilant Republican watch party in Scottsdale soon after The Associated Press predicted him the winner of Arizona's gubernatorial race.