Their plans to fix Arizona’s economy may be hard to decipher.
And neither Democrat Fred DuVal nor Republican Doug Ducey is precise on exactly how they think the state will permanently come up with more money for schools.
But anyone seeking clear distinctions between the major candidates for governor need look only at their positions on what might be called “morality” issues to find some stark contrasts.
And given how often these issues translate into legislation, what the next governor believes could be the difference between when some measures become law and others are vetoed.
Consider gay rights.
DuVal has strongly come out in favor of the ability of gays to wed.
Ducey, by contrast, wants to limit marriage to one man and one woman, as approved by voters in 2008, though he did say after Tuesday’s ruling by the 9th Circuit overturning laws in Nevada and Idaho that he will “follow the law.”
But he also opposes granting health insurance and other benefits to the domestic partners of gay state and university employees. And that’s an issue where the views of the governor matter.
Jan Brewer is currently in federal court fighting a bid to permanently void a provision in a 2009 law which she signed that limits benefits solely to those who are married. That action overturned a rule adopted just a year earlier to the contrary.
Brewer has said the law was a question not of bias, but of saving money during tough fiscal times. But a federal judge already has issued a preliminary injunction, saying it appears to be a clear case of discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Whoever is the next governor could decide to keep the issue alive or simply drop the defense.
There are other issues of gay rights that divide the pair.
For example, existing Arizona law makes it illegal to discriminate on the basis of gender, age, race, religion or national origin. Ducey said he opposes expanding that list to include sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.
“I’m for equal protection under the law for everyone,” he said. “But I don’t want to continue to divide people up through these protected classes.”
Ducey said, though, he would not turn back the clock and try remove things like race or religion from that special “protected class” status that gives victims of discrimination the right to sue.
DuVal conceded that new rights for gays may result in new litigation.
“But we need to constantly expand rights and opportunities in ways that broaden success and participation,” he said. DuVal said the country, having provided legal protections to other groups, now needs to extend that to lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgendered individuals.
Along the same lines, the pair parts ways about whether Arizona should protect businesses and individuals from being required to provide services in a way that runs counter to their own moral or religious beliefs.
This became an issue following the decision earlier this year by Gov. Jan Brewer to veto SB1062. The measure would have expanded existing laws on religious freedom to provide an absolute right of businesses to cite their “sincerely held religious beliefs” as a reason to refuse service to someone.
Brewer said it was a solution in search of a problem. And both Ducey and DuVal have said they back her veto.
But Ducey said he does support providing some protections for religious beliefs from government intrusion, citing the case of Hobby Lobby, which fought for and got the right to refuse to include contraceptive coverage for their workers.
“Private employers should be able to make a decision on which benefits are provided to employees,” he said.
DuVal, however, said he sees the issue from a different perspective.
“You should not be allowed to discriminate,” he said.
“I recognize that runs into conflict with folks’ private businesses,” he continued. But DuVal said those same arguments were made over passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act which forbade businesses from discriminating against African Americans.
“We’ve been through these issues before,” DuVal said. “And we now must face them on gays and lesbians.”
The other perennial hot-button issue at the Legislature has been abortion.
Arizona lawmakers have, in the last six years, imposed new limits on what the U.S. Supreme Court has said is the right of a woman to terminate a pregnancy. That includes waiting periods, clinic inspection rules and restrictions on the use of RU-486 for medication abortions.
Ducey has made no secret of his support for additional restrictions. In fact, he said that he is in favor of prohibiting all abortions except in certain narrow circumstances like preventing the death of the mother or in cases of rape and incest.
DuVal said the right to abortion is “established federal law” and should remain. He also is opposed to new limits.
In other issues which have moral or ethical considerations, Ducey said he is opposed to legalizing marijuana for recreational use. DuVal said he thinks Arizona should take a wait-and-see attitude, watching how such laws are playing out in Colorado and Washington.
Ducey also said he opposes legalizing physician-assisted suicide. Oregon has such a law which permits a doctor to help someone who has a terminal illness.
DuVal said he has not really thought about the matter.
And Ducey said he wants Arizona to scrap its 40-year-old system of merit selection of judges for the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals and trial courts in Pima, Pinal and Maricopa counties. That system requires the governor to make selections from a list of recommendations by a special screening committee.
Ducey said he favors allowing the governor to pick whoever he or she wants, subject only to Senate confirmation, similar to the federal system. DuVal said the current system works to take much of the politics out of the process.