Columnist George Will: Governor Doug Ducey Turning Arizona Into an 'Oasis of Liberty'

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey is the future of conservatism, according to George Will.
Arizona Governor Doug Ducey is the future of conservatism, according to George Will.
Ray Stern

George Will, apparently reading the local papers while in town for spring-training games, has decided that Governor Doug Ducey is the new Mr. Conservative.

In his nationally syndicated column on Monday, Will wrote that Ducey is a modern-day Barry Goldwater, turning Arizona into an "oasis of liberty."

Say what? The governor who helped raise millions to keep marijuana a felony in Arizona, and who just last week signed a law that weakens direct democracy in the state, is all about liberty?

In fact, despite a few arguably anti-liberty moves, the former Cold Stone Creamery CEO and State Treasurer does generally wake up on the right side of bed, so to speak.

Just ask Arizona teachers: Ducey told them he wanted to give them a raise. Then, in his proposed budget, he offered a mere four-tenths of a percent raise for next year. His office cited low state revenues as the reason for the lowball proposal.

According to Will, Ducey has earned solid conservative credentials with his support of Uber, Airbnb, microbreweries, and "rogue" barbers.

"Today's governor, Doug Ducey, is demonstrating the continuing pertinence of the limited-government conservatism with which Senator Goldwater shaped the modern GOP, after himself being shaped by life in the leave-me-alone spirit of the wide open spaces of near-frontier Arizona," Will wrote.

Will noted that Ducey has "limits to his Western libertarianism," pointing out that he helped Arizona to become the only one of five states last year that rejected marijuana legalization.

But the conservative Washington Post columnist suggested that Ducey could provide exactly the sort of leadership that Republicans need.

The GOP "became a conservative party partly because of what an Arizonan did many decades ago. It may become such a party again, with another Arizonan's help."

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Ducey didn't respond to a request for comment about Will's column.

But Arizona Senate Minority Leader Katie Hobbs (D-Phoenix) said she found it surprising Will would be so generous.

"I don't think Ducey really stands for anything," she said. "He has ... his finger in the air."

At the same time, the pro-education platform he outlined in his January state-of-the-state speech is "a mile wide and an inch deep," she said.

That being said, Democratic leaders like Hobbs sure don't want Ducey to keep conservatives like George Will too happy.


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