Ducey faces challenger in Arizona Republican gubernatorial primary

PHOENIX (AP) — A former Arizona secretary of state will challenge Gov. Doug Ducey in the Republican primary on Aug. 28.

Ken Bennett said Tuesday he filed more than 7,800 signatures in order to qualify him for the ballot. He started collecting signatures after Ducey unveiled a plan to give teachers 20 percent raises prior to a statewide teacher walkout.

Bennett said he thinks Ducey “flip-flopped” by funding the proposal off of increased revenue projections after previously saying the state couldn’t afford raises.

“We ran into a lot of people across the state who were anxious to sign a petition for somebody running against Doug Ducey,” Bennett said.

Bennett plans to run using the state’s public financing program. He will need at least 4,000 contributions each at least $5 by Aug. 21 to do so.

Ducey’s political adviser J.D. Twist said in a statement that “it would not be an election cycle without Ken Bennett on the ballot,” a nod to the crowded 2014 Republican primary where Ducey beat Bennett and other challengers.

“Other than moving up from fourth to second, the results for Bennett in 2018 will be no different than 2014,” Twist said.

But Bennett, who is also a former state Senate president, said he thinks he has a better shot with voters this time around.

“This time, they’ll have two clear choices,” he said.

Candidates for all races had until 5 p.m. on May 30 to file signatures to get a spot on the ballot. There’s about a two-week period where signatures could be challenged by those who seek to knock the candidate off the ballot.

On the other side of the aisle, three Democrats filed signatures to be on the primary ballot in the hopes of challenging Ducey in November.

Kelly Fryer, the CEO of the YWCA Southern Arizona, filed nearly 11,000 signatures, according to the Arizona Secretary of State’s office.

David Garcia, a U.S. Army veteran with a career in public education filed more than 9,400 signatures. State Sen. Steve Farley, who was elected to the Statehouse in 2006, filed 8,770 signatures.

Libertarian candidate Kevin McCormick has also filed signatures.

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