Gov. Doug Ducey slapped back Wednesday at former President Trump for calling him a “Republican in name only.”
“I’ll hold up my conservative record in Arizona against any other state,” he said when asked about Trump’s comments Tuesday in endorsing Republican Kari Lake for governor.
But the governor was less eager to get into a battle with Lake who has aligned herself squarely with the former president and who accepted and touted Trump’s endorsement. And Lake separately detailed for Capitol Media Services some of the things that she believes Ducey has done wrong, paralleling the same complaints that the former president has made about him.
In endorsing the former news anchor for the Phoenix Fox TV affiliate, Trump said she “will do a far better job than RINO Gov. Doug Ducey.”
“Won’t even be a contest,” the former president continued.
She wasted no time in sending out Trump’s message, calling it “the most powerful endorsement in the history of politics.”
But Lake, running in what is seen as a five-way race for the GOP gubernatorial nod, was not willing to follow the former president down the road of bashing Ducey’s credentials.
“Is Doug Ducey a RINO? You’d have to ask him that,” she said in response to a question.
And Lake said she was glad Arizona had a Republican governor during the Covid outbreak, at least in comparison with “blue states with Democrat governors.”
That, however, was not the end.
“That being said, I disagreed with the way Doug Ducey handled Covid,” she continued. “I don’t believe Gov. Ducey should have shut down the state — twice,” Lake said, referring to the governor’s stay-at-home orders, closing schools and shuttering certain businesses he termed “non-essential.”
And that, the current GOP front-runner said, shows a weakness.
“He could not withstand the pressure from the liberal mayors of Tucson, Phoenix and Flagstaff and the pressure from activists disguised as journalists in the media who were pushing him to shut the state down, mask people up and destroy our economy,” Lake said. “As governor I will never shut down anyone’s business, school or church.”
And then there was what Lake calls the “shady, shoddy and corrupt 2020 election.”
“With all of the issues that were being reported back in November (Secretary of State) Katie Hobbs should have never certified the election,” she said. “They both failed the voters of Arizona when they did that.”
Ducey on Wednesday dismissed that.
“I’m loyal to the people of Arizona,” he said. “And I’m loyal to the Constitution and the law.”
The governor also seemed less than impressed by Lake getting Trump’s political blessing.
“There’s endorsements all of the time,” he said. “And it’s going to be a very spirited primary.”
And he sidestepped questions about what a Lake nomination would mean for the Republican Party.
“Listen, like I said, it’s going to be a long primary process,” Ducey said.
Relations between the governor and the former president began to sour at the end of November when Trump called Ducey on his cell phone as he was in the process of certifying on live TV the official election results which showed that Biden won the state and its 11 electoral votes. The governor, knowing the call was from Trump — the ringtone was “Hail to the Chief” — did not answer.
“I was at a public ceremony, doing an official act, so regardless of who was calling, I was not going to answer the phone at that moment,” the governor explained later.
Ducey said he did return the call later and spoke to Trump, but said he did not ask the governor to overturn the election returns.
But that did not keep the then-president, just hours later, from reposting a tweet from a pro-Trump TV network, declaring that Ducey “has betrayed the people of Arizona.” Trump added, “TRUE!”
Trump repeated the RINO charge as recently as June, trolling the governor after he made it clear he has no interest in running for the U.S. Senate.
“It would not matter, however, because he could not get the nomination after failing to perform on the Voter Fraud in Arizona,” the former president continued. “Also, there is no way he would get my endorsement, which means his aspirations would be permanently put to rest anyway.”