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Ducey is the first Arizona governor in decades to give an 8th State of the State

One of Doug Ducey’s most historically noteworthy achievements may be simply lasting long enough as governor to give an eighth State of the State address, a feat no Arizona governor has accomplished in 36 years. 

In his speech on Monday, Ducey said he had the “unique privilege” of giving a State of the State speech for the eighth time. No governor has matched that mark since 1986, when Bruce Babbitt gave his final State of the State address.

That Ducey is the first governor since Babbitt to reach that milestone is a testament to his longevity in office. Since the election of Raul Castro in 1974, every Arizona governor has either left office early or inherited the governorship through the line of succession. No governor since Jack Williams, who was elected in 1966 and served eight years, has both entered office through election and left at the natural end of a term. Presuming he serves out the final year of his term, Ducey will become the first governor in nearly 50 years to break that trend. 

The reasons why no governor has been able to serve a full eight years vary.

Castro resigned in 1977 to serve as President Jimmy Carter’s ambassador to Argentina. He was succeeded by Secretary of State Wesley Bolin, who died several months later. Babbitt, who had been serving as attorney general, succeeded Bolin. 

Evan Mecham, who was elected in 1986, was impeached and removed from office in 1988. Secretary of State Rose Mofford, who succeeded Mecham, declined to run for a full term in 1990. Fife Symington, who followed Mofford into the governor’s office, gave seven State of the State addresses, but was forced to resign after being convicted of bank fraud in federal court in September 1997, just a few months shy of his eighth annual speech. 

Jane Hull, who was secretary of state, gave five State of the State speeches. Like Symington, Janet Napolitano, who was elected in 2002, gave seven addresses as well, resigning shortly after her final State of the State to become President Barack Obama’s secretary of homeland security. Secretary of State Jan Brewer, Napolitano’s successor and Ducey’s immediate predecessor, gave five addresses. 

Voters imposed term limits in 1992, limiting governors to a maximum of eight years in office.

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This report was first published by the Arizona Mirror.

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Jerod MacDonald-Evoy/Arizona Mirror

Gov. Doug Ducey greets lawmakers and guests shortly before beginning his State of the State speech on Jan. 13, 2020.