Republican Gov. Doug Ducey of Arizona has been known to quarrel with some of the extremists in his party. In 2020, for example, when Donald Trump pressed the governor not to certify the results of Arizona’s elections, Ducey ignored him.
When the Arizona Republican Party formally censured the sitting governor for not being radical enough, Ducey seemed unconcerned about saying, in reference to state GOP Chair Kelli Ward, “I would say the feeling is mutual, with respect to her.”
But to see the governor as a moderating force in Republican politics would apparently be a mistake. Talking Points Memo noted this morning:
On Thursday, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) defended his independent expenditures spending half a million dollars to support far-right Arizona state Sen. Wendy Rogers (R), who cozies up to white nationalists and spews white nationalist talking points, in the 2020 election against her Democratic opponent.
Pressed for an explanation as to why his political operation would support someone as right-wing as Rogers, Ducey grinned and explained his rationale to reporters.
According to a video posted online last night by a local NBC affiliate, Ducey said he needs “governing majorities” in order to advance his agenda. He went on to say Rogers is “better than her [Democratic] opponent.”
Pressed specifically on the fringe contingent of the GOP that Rogers represents, the governor again said she’s still preferrable to her Democratic rival.
Ducey’s candor was welcome, though his position is tough to defend.
Rogers has been accused of having ties to some truly outrageous figures in right-wing politics. For those hoping to see the Republican Party drift closer to an American mainstream, the extremist state lawmaker is an example of the kind of politician who deserves rebukes, not financial support.
But to hear Arizona’s governor tell it, he cares about GOP victories more than GOP principles. If that means those with white-nationalist connections maintain a role in the state party’s coalition, so be it.
The goal is to acquire and maintain power, even if that means making room for the likes of Rogers.