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Governor Ducey’s Chance to Make History

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Arizona Governor Doug Ducey in Phoenix in 2014. (Samantha Sais/Reuters) By dramatically decreasing the state’s income tax and simplifying its tax code, the governor can help ensure Arizona’s future ideological and economic success.

Now in the twilight of his gubernatorial career, Arizona governor Doug Ducey has the unique opportunity to make history on two fronts. First, if he simply remains in office for the next 18 months, he will become the Grand Canyon State’s first governor since Jack Williams — whose term ended in 1974 — to both enter and leave office during regular election cycles.

This peculiarity began with Raúl Héctor Castro, who succeeded Williams as governor. Castro happily resigned his post a few years later once President Carter had appointed him ambassador to Argentina. Since Arizona does not have a lieutenant governor, then–secretary of state Wesley Bolin ascended to the governorship by virtue of being the state’s next highest-ranking elected official — only to pass away six months later from a heart attack.

Arizona’s constitution stipulates that in such circumstances the third-highest-ranking official is next in line, meaning that the attorney general, Bruce Babbitt, also achieved the governorship without having to run for the office. And on it went. Since then, Arizona has witnessed a gubernatorial impeachment, two resignations, and three more secretaries of state extemporaneously gaining the governorship — making the office of secretary of state much more significant than its otherwise mundane responsibilities would suggest.

Governor Ducey is term-limited at the end of 2022 and so is primed to become Arizona’s first governor in nearly half a century to be both elected to the office and then to actually serve out his full term(s). While this accomplishment is an interesting piece of trivia for political-history buffs, it’s not much of a résumé builder for a politician who may have greater ambitions come 2024.

Whereas most of Arizona’s governors have fallen somewhere between unremarkable and abysmal, Governor Ducey has the opportunity to break this mold and leave a permanent, positive mark on the state. This is where his second opportunity to make history

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