David Garcia

Democratic candidate for governor David Garcia: “I am committed to the Red for Ed movement and returning a billion dollars back into public education.”

Gov. Doug Ducey will face a test of his leadership from Democrat David Garcia, who came out on top of the three-way Democratic primary last month.

Ducey has built his re-election campaign around the theme of security, both in terms of border security and economic security.

A military veteran and a professor at Arizona State University, Garcia previously ran for State Superintendent of Public Instruction in 2014. 

Garcia says as a military veteran, he served to protect U.S. borders.

“I’ve put on the uniform; Ducey hasn’t,” he told the Tucson Weekly. “My life service is committing a portion of my life to serving and defending our borders. I’ve already done it once—those are actions, not words—and I will continue to do it as governor as well.”

Two polls in the last week paint different pictures of the race. One, from Democrat-leaning Public Policy Polling, shows a tight race, with 44 percent of voters preferring Ducey, 43 percent supporting Garcia and 13 percent of voters undecided. But a second survey, from Data Orbital, shows Ducey with a solid lead, with the support of 48.8 percent of those surveyed, compared to just 41 percent for Garcia. Just 7.9 percent of those surveyed were undecided.

• The race for Arizona Attorney General will pit incumbent Republican Mark Brnovich against January Contreras, a lawyer who served as a top aide to former Arizona governor Janet Napolitano.

Brnovich worked as a local, state and federal prosecutor as well as an attorney for the Goldwater Institute and the Corrections Corporation of America before unseating Republican AG Tom Horne in the 2014 primary.

Before getting into the race for Attorney General, Contreras worked as a state and county prosecutor, served as a policy advisor to Napolitano, and continued working with Napolitano in Washington after the governor became Secretary of Homeland Security. 

Contreras said she got into the race because she was concerned by Brnovich’s political bent, such as suing over the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act or trying to prevent DACA immigrants from obtaining Arizona driver licenses.

“I’ve been around long enough to know what good governments look like,” she said. “What I see right now is that the eighth-grade lessons of checks and balances that we learned so long ago, it just doesn’t exist right now in Arizona.”

• In the Arizona Secretary of State race, Republican Steve Gaynor, a political newcomer who defeated incumbent Michele Reagan in the GOP primary, will face Democrat Katie Hobbs, a state lawmaker.

• Republican Frank Riggs, a former California congressman who ran unsuccessfully for governor in Arizona in 2014, managed to unseat Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas. Riggs will face schoolteacher Kathy Hoffman in a race to determine who will head up the Arizona Department of Education. 

• In the GOP race for two seats on the Arizona Corporation Commission, Tom Forese was knocked out of office by primary voters. Incumbent Justin Olson and one-time Democrat Rodney Glassman will be the GOP’s standard bearers in November. On the Democratic side, the candidates are former-ACC member Sandra Kennedy and Kiana Sears, a former consultant for the ACC.

• Republican Kimberly Yee will face Democrat Mark Manoil in the race for Arizona Treasurer.

County Races

While most county officials won’t be up for re-election until 2020, one major race is up for grabs this year: Clerk of the Superior Court.

Toni Hellon, a former Republican state senator who has served as Pima County’s Clerk of the Superior Court since 2013, is running for re-election against Democrat Gary Harrison. She said she wants another four years to see her hard work come to fruition.

“I suppose you always want to complete the things you’ve started, but I think you never can,” Hellon said. “I’ve been around business and politics long enough to know that when you leave, there is always going to be things that are unfinished. It’s just the way it is, but we’re making good progress, and I’m excited about that.”

Harrison worked in the Clerk’s office as a division director for 30 years until he retired this past January. He decided to launch a campaign for Hellon’s position in hopes of coming back and shaking things up.

“I’m probably the most informed person about that office that you can find anywhere, even more than the current clerk,” Harrison said. “I’ve worked under three clerks and there are some things that I kind of left undone and that I would like to see put forth, and I know that’s not going to happen unless I’m there to do it.”

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