Republican incumbent Doug Ducey and Democrat David Garcia, a college professor who hopes to become Arizona’s first Latino governor in more than 40 years, will meet in November after winning Tuesday's primary races.
The Associated Press called the Democratic primary for Garcia, as he was decidedly winning against State Senator Steve Farley and nonprofit CEO Kelly Fryer. Garcia had almost 50 percent of the vote, more than 13 percentage points ahead of Farley. Ducey's victory was never in doubt as he had more than 70 percent of the vote in his race against Ken Bennett.
The Republican Governor’s Association was quick to pounce on Garcia.
“By nominating David Garcia for governor, Arizona Democrats have embraced the radical far-left,” said RGA Communications Director Jon Thompson.
The Arizona Democratic party responded in kind.
"Republicans are afraid of David Garcia, because he's most able to expose Doug Ducey's failure on education and to shed light on corporate interests trying to influence our politics," the Democrats said in a statement.
Garcia’s supporters are counting on their candidate to boost Latino turnout in November, potentially helping down-ballot Democrats. Arizona hasn't had a Hispanic governor since Raul Castro left office in 1977.
They’re also hoping Garcia’s background as an education professor at Arizona State University will win over #RedForEd supporters during a year where the debate over teacher pay dominated state politics. He lost a 2014 race for Arizona Superintendent for Education to Republican Diane Douglas.
“Our state is changing," Garcia said at Roland's Market Cafe Bar, which was packed with supporters. "The lobbyists and insiders who have been running the show for decades, they are scared. Why? Because they know their days are numbered."
On the campaign trail, Governor Ducey has touted recent economic growth as a sign he’s doing something right. He has attacked Garcia for saying that he supports "replacing ICE with an immigration system that reflects our American values."
There is little polling data on the governor’s race. The only major poll, released in July, showed Garcia with a slight edge over Ducey in a matchup between the two.
Ducey heads into the general election with a significant funding advantage.
As of August 11, Garcia’s campaign had less than $150,000 in the bank after spending most of the $1 million it raised fending off Farley. By contrast, Ducey’s campaign had more than $3 million.