Originally Published: August 26, 2014 9:43 p.m.
PHOENIX (AP) - State treasurer and former CEO Doug Ducey won the Republican primary for Arizona governor Tuesday, riding to victory with a campaign that focused on his blend of government and business experience in serving as a state official and building an ice cream company into a national brand.
Ducey started Cold Stone Creamery in Arizona and built it into a well-known chain before selling the company in 2007 and getting into politics.
He has been state treasurer for the last four years, serving as the chief steward of Arizona's finances during a period that included the collapse of the housing market in the state.
Ducey, 50, quickly moved on to the general election, saying he was going to unite not only the party but all Arizonans.
"I want to be the governor for all the people, and in this campaign I will reach out to all the people," he said in remarks prepared for delivery at a Republican Party rally in Phoenix. "You have my word that as the Republican nominee, I will keep giving this race the best that is in me, and I will earn the vote by showing the best that is in Arizona."
Ducey faces Democrat Fred DuVal, who was unopposed in the primary.
The race to replace Republican Gov. Jan Brewer began as a fairly quiet contest focused on health care and jobs before shifting abruptly when thousands of immigrant children began pouring into the country and some settled in Arizona.
In the quest for right-leaning Republican primary voters, the six candidates quickly staked out hard-line positions on immigration and repeatedly attacked the Obama administration for failing to secure the border.
The race turned into a slugfest between Ducey, former Mesa Mayor Scott Smith and former GoDaddy executive Christine Jones.
"We wanted to have a message that was positive, a message about Arizona's future," Smith told supporters in a concession speech. "We fell a little short tonight ... Maybe it wasn't red meat, maybe it didn't fit the primary mold."
Ducey and Jones poured millions of their own cash into the race. Smith lagged in fundraising but had the endorsement of Brewer.
Well behind Tuesday night were Secretary of State Ken Bennett, former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas and former California congressman Frank Riggs.
Becky Fenger, a retiree, said she supported Ducey and noted that she didn't like Smith and Jones for various reasons. "I would like to vote for Ken Bennett, an honest man but no pizazz," Fenger said. "Riggs does not have a shot in hell."
Ducey painted himself as the front-runner late in the race and cited a broad coalition of business and political leaders as supporters.
Ducey planned to attend the state GOP's election night party at a downtown Phoenix hotel, and Brewer plans to attend as well.
He will need to act quickly to heal a party that was divided by the primary fight. Ducey, Jones and Smith have each been hit with attack ads, which can turn off voters.
Brewer said last week after an event for Smith that she hopes the party unites after the primary, no matter who wins.
"We all know that during a primary, things get kind of hot and heavy, and a lot of things are said," Brewer said. "And after Tuesday night, I hope we can all come together and be Republicans under one tent. That's what I would strive for."