After about two months of exploring, Fred DuVal formally announced his campaign for Arizona governor.
Surrounded by about 50 supporters at the downtown restaurant Squash Blossom, DuVal spoke about his decades of experience in government and laid out some of his goals of improving Arizona’s economy and educational system.
“I am a problem solver. Through my life, I have a lifelong track record of accomplishments that make a difference in the lives of Arizonans like you and me,” DuVal said. “The important solutions and the sustainable, lasting solutions … don’t come in this tired, polarized debate between Republicans and Democrats, between left and right, but in an informed, strategic debate about forward versus backward. As our next governor, we will go forward.”
Since forming his exploratory committee in February, DuVal has crisscrossed the state and racked up scores of endorsements. He said little will change now that he is ending the exploratory committee and formally becoming a candidate for governor.
DuVal and his supporters frequently cited his years of experience at both the state and federal level. He served as a top aide to former Gov. Bruce Babbitt in the 1980s, and served as Babbitt’s chief of staff during his time as U.S. secretary of the interior before becoming President Clinton’s liaison to the states. More recently, DuVal served on the Arizona Commerce and Economic Development Commission and served as chairman of the Arizona Board of Regents.
DuVal spoke of his role in the achievements of the Babbitt administration, including the creation of the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, the modern Phoenix freeway system and the Groundwater Management Act. He cited his role in the Clinton White House in the multistate tobacco settlement and implementing welfare reform.
Supporters such as former Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon and Phoenix City Councilman Daniel Valenzuela, DuVal’s campaign co-chair, praised the work the DuVal has done for Arizona over the years.
“Everyone who lives in this state has already benefitted from Fred,” Gordon said.
Creating a comprehensive plan for growing Arizona’s economy should be the state’s top priority, DuVal said, and the most important investment Arizona must make is in its future is in education. As the state’s economy recovers and revenues increase, DuVal said Arizona must use that money to invest in the K-12 and higher education system, including in the retention of good teachers, ensuring that all children in Arizona have access to good schools, and holding schools accountable for student achievement.
DuVal recounted a recent visit he made to a class at Arizona State University. About two-thirds of the 60 or so students in the class were from Arizona, he said, but only two said they planned to stay in Arizona after graduation.
“It was a smoke signal from the future that they don’t think our state’s ambition matches theirs. Think about what that means,” DuVal said.
DuVal spoke often about working across the aisle and struck a bipartisan tone for much of his announcement. But he will likely have to win a partisan primary against House Minority Leader Chad Campbell in order to get the general election.
DuVal said he believes his years of experience and his tangible accomplishments that have touched the lives of Arizonans make him the better candidate.
“I have 35, 40 years of experience, not as an elected politician but in getting big things done,” DuVal said. “What sets me apart is I’ve got a proven track record of how to create big change in a space where everyone can be part of the process.”