The Arizona gubernatorial primary has been something of a free-for-all, with a large Republican field vying to run against the likely Democratic nominee. The state hasn’t elected a Democratic governor since 2006, and this year’s race has also been talked about as an important measure of where the GOP stands ahead of the 2016 presidential election in a state where demographics and party affiliation are rapidly shifting. Arizona’s Latino population is expected to exceed 50 percent of the state by 2030 and, as the New York Times observed in March, it now has more voters who identify as independents than as Democrats or Republicans.
The Republican primary has become a nail biter, with state treasurer and former Coldstone Creamery CEO Doug Ducey and former GoDaddy executive Christine Jones running even ahead of the August 26 primary.
Jones is running as an outsider, and she’s probably the most interesting candidate in the race. She calls herself “unapologetically conservative,” and she’s held more than a dozen Second Amendment–themed campaign events at gun stores across the state. But, unlike some of the GOP’s political firebrands, she has at times offered support and praise for President Obama. In a November 2012 Facebook post, she told friends to “get excited” and “find a way to support the new president of the United States of America.”
She has taken very public shots at the president recently, even going so far as to say his failure to enforce the nation’s immigration laws have turned the government into the biggest coyote operation in history, but she tells me being able to say nice things, even about the president, is “a sign of strength, not a sign of weakness.”
We’ll see whether Arizona’s GOP voters agree.