Ducey, DuVal sling mud in 4th debate
PHOENIX (AP) - Republican Doug Ducey and Democrat Fred DuVal exchanged heated attacks during their fourth debate, with Ducey calling DuVal a "bag man" for dark money groups and DuVal demanding that Ducey answer questions about whether he was accused of misrepresentation in the sale of his ice cream company.
DuVal said his background is open and public and Ducey said the buyers of his Cold Stone Creamery business said there was complete satisfaction with the deal.
The exchange was one of the most heated of Monday night's hour-long debate, which also featured Libertarian Barry Hess and Americans Elect candidate John Lewis Mealer.
The exchange that led to the "bag man" comment came after moderator Ted Simons asked the candidates whether the sponsors of political ads ought to disclose their donors. Both agreed more disclosure was needed, and DuVal lit into Ducey for outside support he's received.
"Doug, you've had millions of dollars spent by the Republican Governors Association to attack me, millions of dollars," DuVal said. "And before that it in the primary you did it with Christine Jones, you did it with Scott Smith. You've been succeeding in this process by tearing down your opponents and I think you should just stop it."
"Fred, we're both playing by the same rules. I'm new to politics. People know what I've done with my career. I've been selling ice cream," Ducey responded. "You've been peddling influence. You've been a lawyer and a lobbyist and you've been a Democratic bag man for these ads in the past."
DuVal shot back, saying his background is completely open.
"Everything about what I've done in my life is open. You sold a business and it is a closed file," DuVal said. "What happened in that arbitration? I think the voters deserve to know whether or not you were accused of material misrepresentation."
That was a reference to the 2007 sale of Cold Stone to Kahala Group, which landed in a private arbitration. After the dispute arose, a deal was cut that lowered the sales price.
"The people that purchased Cold Stone Creamery said there was complete satisfaction," Ducey said.
A portion of Monday's debate focused on the difference between the candidates on school funding, economic growth and business climate.
The state is facing more than a billion dollars in deficits in the coming two years, and the courts have ordered Arizona to pay an additional $1.6 billion to schools over the coming five years and may order $1.3 billion in back payments. That order came in a lawsuit won by schools over the Legislature's failure to fund voter-mandated yearly inflation increases, and is being appealed.
Ducey supports an appeal of the court order, while DuVal wants payments of about $320 million a year to begin immediately.
"The voters were quite clear in their intent, and we need to pay back this money," DuVal said. He said the state should use its $454 million rainy day fund for the first year's payments, they use changes in state purchasing and trust land sales to fund the rest.
Ducey said any payments need to go right into the classroom, and he wants changes in school funding formulas to make sure that happens. He also said the state could save money by not replacing non-education workers as they retire in the coming years and making better use of technology instead.
Mealer said using state trust land for industry expansion will add to the tax base and help pay schools. Hess also said rainy day fund and trust land sales would help.
"Most importantly what I'll be striving for is asking the voters to repeal the mandatory spending," Hess said. "We've got to cut the spending because the education now absorbs almost 50 percent of our budget. It's ridiculous."
DuVal, 60, served as a top aide and adviser to Bruce Babbitt both during Babbitt's terms as Arizona governor in the late 1970s and the 1980s, served in President Bill Clinton's administration and was appointed by then-Gov. Janet Napolitano to the Board of Regents. The Tucson native also worked in private business.
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 touts his opposition to a permanent sales tax increase voters rejected in 2012.
Hess, 57, is a writer and repeated candidate who is running for governor for the fourth time. John Mealer is an engineer who has worked in the construction industry and as a developer.
A final governor's candidate debate is set for Oct. 14.