PHOENIX – Unofficial election results Tuesday night showed Gov. Doug Ducey holding a substantial lead over former Secretary of State Ken Bennett in the Republican primary election.
The Associated Press called the race for Ducey shortly after results began coming in to the Secretary of State’s Office.
Ducey is likely to face educator David Garcia, predicted winner of the Democratic primary, in the Nov. 6 general election.
“I am grateful and humbled by the continued support we’ve received from Arizonans tonight,” Ducey said in a statement. “We’ve delivered substantive reforms and made real progress these last three years in order to improve our state.”
He cited a balanced budget, additional education funding and economic growth as some of his office’s accomplishments.
“We’ve done it by looking past labels and party assignments, and serving the public with civility and cooperation,” he said. “Now we must come together again to ensure we build on the significant gains of the last three years to secure Arizona’s future. I look forward to the campaign ahead in the weeks and months to come.”
Bennett congratulated Ducey via Tweet.
Congratulations to Governor Ducey on his victory tonight. I look forward to keeping the seat in Republican hands and focusing on the things that will move Arizona forward.
— Ken Bennett (@BennettArizona) August 29, 2018
The Associated Press also called the race for Garcia over state Sen. Steve Farley and Kelly Fryer, CEO of the YWCA.
“Tonight we have record Democratic turnout,” Garcia told supporters Tuesday night at Roland’s Cafe in Phoenix. “More young people, more Latinos, more people of color voted in this primary than ever before.”
Garcia, an expert in education policy and professor at Arizona State University’s Fulton Teachers College, previously called education “our governor’s weakness,” according to a February Cronkite News article.
“It’s the area that he has been dismantling public education … and I think you’re going to see a big change in Arizona,” Garcia told Cronkite News.
In April, Ducey announced a plan to increase teacher salaries by 20 percent by 2020 in the wake of the Red for Ed movement, which shut down public schools in protest several days last spring. The legislation was part of a larger initiative to restore some of the deep cuts education suffered during the Great Recession.
In a Marist Poll from June 2018, 59 percent of Arizona registered voters said they would not re-elect Ducey; the number was 34 percent among Republicans.
A poll this year by Emerson College put Ducey’s approval rating at 31 percent, lower than President Donald Trump’s approval rating of 42.9 percent.
In a tweet Monday, the president encouraged Arizonans to vote for Ducey, calling him “strong on Crime, the Border, and our Second Amendment.”
Governor Doug Ducey of Arizona is doing a great job. It would be really nice to show your support tomorrow by voting for him in Tuesdays Primary. Doug is strong on Crime, the Border, and our Second Amendment. Loves our Military & our Vets. He has my full and complete Endorsement.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 27, 2018
Vice President Mike Pence congratulated Ducey on Twitter before the 8 p.m. release of initial results. Pence has since removed the tweet.
Cronkite News reporter Carla Maldonado contributed to this article.
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