Now four debates deep in the race for Arizona governor between Republican Doug Ducey and Democrat Fred DuVal, the candidates have stuck to their bread-and-butter subjects.
For Ducey, everything is centered on promoting business growth in the state, and for DuVal, everything circles back to education. In last night's debate televised on the local PBS station, most of the interesting points came in reverse -- with Ducey talking education, and DuVal talking business.
Ducey's still taking heat over his reluctance to support fully funding schools in accordance with state law. Courts have found that lawmakers did not comply a voter-approved law that called for specific increases in education funding, and the state's been ordered to pay up.
In yesterday's debate, even Libertarian candidate Barry Hess said the state should pay up in this lawsuit, although he suggested that, overall, there should be cuts to education spending, and drastic changes to the state's education system.
Ducey has supported continued appeals of the court's decision that the state has to pay up, but has relented by saying he'd be willing to support settling the lawsuit.
"I would much rather pay teachers than lawyers," Ducey said in explaining his reasoning.
Ducey also rejected the often-repeated claim that Arizona's education system is in sorry shape.
"We have three of the top 10 high schools in the country," Ducey explained. "No other state has that bragging right."
Ducey's repeated a similar line several times throughout this campaign, without clarifying that two of those schools are charter schools, and not public schools.
Meanwhile, debate moderator Ted Simons floated a comparison of Ducey's desire to reduce taxes and business regulations to the implementation of that plan in Kansas, which has been regarded as a disaster.
"Well, that's Kansas," Ducey responded. "Let's talk about Arizona, let's talk about Texas, let's talk about Florida. Let's talk about comparable states people are already moving to."
Ducey then attempted to paint DuVal as the anti-business candidate, saying he wanted to run the state more like Texas, while DuVal wanted to run the state like California.
"I'll take the path of [Texas Governor] Rick Perry, you take the path of [California Governor] Jerry Brown," Ducey said. (For one, we assume he meant on tax and regulatory policy, not the other stuff. Two, Simons noted that California currently has the best job growth in the nation.)
DuVal was no slouch on the business questions, and as expected, brought everything back to education.
"What I hear from businesses looking to relocate around the country, they look at the tax rate, they think Arizona has made a lot of progress. They look at the regulatory environment and say Arizona's not bad." DuVal said at one point in the debate. "Then the core question: Will my employees have the talent to be successful? Will my children and my employees children have good schools to go to?"
The debate did touch on other issues, such as Governor Jan Brewer's executive order denying driver's license to young immigrants authorized to work in the U.S. through the Obama Administration's DACA program. There were no surprises there: Ducey supported the ban, and DuVal opposed it.
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