Arizona Democrats have chosen a university professor who wants to “replace” Immigration and Customs Enforcement as their nominee to take on Gov. Doug Ducey in November, which may present the party’s best chance in a decade to win back the governorship from Republican control.
David Garcia, who teaches at the University of Arizona and narrowly lost a bid to become the state’s schools chief in 2014, won against state Sen. Steve Farley on Tuesday.
Democrats would have been happy with their Garcia or Farley. The Republican Governor’s Association has already spent millions trying to protect Ducey in November, demonstrating how worried that GOP is about a Democratic wave.
Farley outraised Garcia for most of the race, according to the Arizona Republic, but the professor enjoyed a late surge of money and attention in the final days. He appealed to the Democratic base with talk of universal health care and vast reforms to Trump’s immigration system. As the Republic noted, his education bonafides could also help him against Ducey, who presided over a disastrous five-day teacher strike earlier this year.
The run-up to November will also be complicated the Ducey’s imminent selection of a senator to fill the seat of John McCain, who died Saturday. The governor is likely to face competing calls to appoint a moderate in McCain’s style, or one of the hard-line conservative who have lately dominated the state GOP. Whichever he goes for, he risks splitting his base of support.