PHOENIX - Arizona Treasurer Doug Ducey cruised to an easy win over Democrat Fred DuVal on Tuesday to become the next governor as voters chose to stick with the Republican Party for the top office as the state still struggles to bounce back from the Great Recession.
Ducey portrayed himself as the inevitable winner in the final weeks of the campaign, buoyed by heavy spending on his behalf by outside groups and strong Republican turnout in early voting. He emerged from a bruising six-way primary in August in the race to replace Gov. Jan Brewer and went on to outspend DuVal in the general election by a hefty margin.
Ducey takes office in January and will face a fiscal crisis caused by lower-than-expected tax revenue and a court order that could put Arizona on the hook for up to $2.5 billion in new education spending. The state faces a projected deficit of $1.5 billion in the current and next budget years amid promises from both candidates to cut taxes.
"I'm grateful for the privilege you have given me, for the trust you have given me, and I pledge my best efforts as the governor of this great state," Ducey said in a victory speech. "Whether you voted for me or you voted for someone else, I intend to be governor for all and work to create opportunities for every single Arizonans."
Ducey thanked his campaign staff, his wife and three sons, and his opponent, Fred DuVal, who he called "a good man."
DuVal, in a concession speech at the Democrats' election night headquarters in Phoenix, also thanked his supporters, and he said he had called Ducey to offer his congratulations.
"A registration disadvantage and clearly a bad national environment were hard enough to overcome. But we were also reminded that unlimited money is a powerful thing in politics - and is not a healthy thing," DuVal said.
He took a swipe and the massive amounts of outside spending used to attack him in the race from outside groups. Ducey and Duval each spent about $2.2 million in their general election campaign, but Ducey has benefited from $7.9 million in outside spending compared with about $1 million for DuVal.
"I would like to call and congratulate the other big winners tonight, but frankly the other big winners are undisclosed, unknown and out of state," DuVal said.
Ducey, 50, helped launch Cold Stone Creamery in Arizona and built it into a well-known chain before selling the company in 2007 and getting into politics. He was elected as state treasurer in 2010 and said his experience in the private and public sectors made him the right fit to lead the state.
DuVal, 60, served as a top aide and adviser to Gov. Bruce Babbitt in the late 1970s and the 1980s, worked in President Bill Clinton's administration and was appointed by then-Gov. Janet Napolitano to the University of Arizona Board of Regents. The Tucson native also worked in private business.