Outgoing Republican Gov. Doug Ducey of Arizona implicitly rebuked the direction former President Donald Trump was taking on the GOP during a speech Tuesday at the Reagan Library, warning against leaders of his party posing as both “bullyers” and into candidates who are “defined more by their attitudes than by the policies they propose”.
Ducey, who is completing his second term as governor while serving as co-chair of the Republican Governors Association, has been the subject of a spate of attacks from Trump after he rejected the former president’s pleas to oust Joe Biden’s narrow victory in Arizona. Without mentioning Trump’s name Tuesday night, the governor described the GOP as struggling for “direction and purpose” at a point where Trump still has a vise-like grip on grassroots loyalty and has handpicked far-right candidates in many marquees in midterm races — also in Arizona, where Ducey appears to have gotten some of those same Trump picks.
The Arizona governor, who has repeatedly opposed efforts by national Republicans to recruit him to run for the Senate, predicted the GOP would do well in November, but only because of what he called “Democratic incompetence.” . Some Republicans have expressed concern that their candidates’ extreme positions on abortion and acceptance of Trump’s election lies could jeopardize the party’s chances of taking control of the House and Senate in November.
Ducey appeared to be particularly targeting Trump’s attempts to stay in power after losing in 2020.
“It’s worth reminding ourselves that the point of winning elections isn’t just about winning elections. It’s about governing with conservative ideals that preserve the American dream and improve the lives of ordinary Americans,” he said in his speech.
He argued that “a dangerous strain of big government activism has taken root” in his party and that “many small government conservatives have turned into tyrants — people who feel very comfortable using government power to tell companies and people how.” let them run their lives,” he noted, is a departure from the more traditional Republican embrace of a less intrusive government.
He added that “a vocal corner of conservative politics is defined more by attitude – and anger – than by a commitment to particular ideals” and that “a growing segment of today’s conservatives are just as happy bossing us around and helping us – and companies – to tell – how we can lead our lives as the progressive left does.”
Ducey argued that Republicans should return to their roots by attempting to persuade voters with a commitment to limited government and by adopting the “happy warrior” stance, suggesting that rhetoric was laden with anger and resentment – a trademark of Trump – is the wrong approach.
“Being a bully is not the way to go,” he said. “It is also not clear to be a royalist. We are a nation that has chosen the Constitution over the King – and it is best we leave it at that.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell tried unsuccessfully to win Ducey, who has remained popular in Arizona despite his rift with Trump, for the US Senate while the GOP seeks to unseat incumbent Democratic Senator Mark Kelly.
Trump mocked Ducey during this time, at one point releasing a statement saying that “MAGA will never accept RINO Governor Doug Ducey of Arizona running for the US Senate,” shortening “Republican only.” in the name”.
This spring, Ducey joined several other high-profile GOP governors in bringing more mainstream GOP midterm election candidates into a proxy battle between the GOP establishment and the Trump-led wing of the party. He went on the campaign trail with Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to support Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp in May as Trump sought to lower Kemp’s chances of reelection. Kemp, who also dismissed Trump’s calls to reverse Biden’s win in his state, was a rare Republican to prevail nationally this year against a key Trump-backed challenger.
Ducey then endorsed Republican nominee Karrin Taylor Robson to succeed him as governor in Arizona, where he is on a tenure and is actively campaigning against Kari Lake, the Trump-backed candidate who repeated the former president’s lies about the election and ultimately won the GOP nomination . Ducey told CNN’s Dana Bash on State of the Union ahead of the August primary that Lake was “misleading voters with no evidence” and described Robson as the “real conservative.”
But after the Arizona primary, he congratulated Lake in a series of tweets, noting that the Republican Governors Association was already on the airwaves in support of them as he urged members of his party to come together. He recently endorsed Blake Masters, the Trump-backed GOP Senate nominee, with a gushing statement calling him “fearless of the threats we face today.”