Arizona Treasurer Doug Ducey announced today that he had wrangled Jon Kyl, who stepped down from the Senate after three terms representing Arizona, into leading a group of policy advisors who are helping him with his exploratory committee for next year's governor's race.
Ducey's press release can be read after the jump, but we are hearing a lot of Republicans call him the front runner in the crowded GOP field. (It became more crowded earlier this month when attorney Christine Jones, former counsel for GoDaddy.com, announced she was moving forward with a campaign.
Shane Wikfors of Sonoran Alliance has a breakdown on the 2014 gubernatorial race here. He sees Ducey and Mesa Mayor Scott Smith as the top-tier candidates:
Assessing the first tier of candidates, both Ducey and Smith are extremely formidable candidates with perhaps the best consulting firms/teams in Arizona running their campaigns. I like to refer to this race as a battle between the House of Noble and the House of Coughlin.
DC London is run by former Chief of Staff to Congressman John Shadegg, Sean Noble — one of the most disciplined, organized and well-connected consultants in the business. House of Coughlin is run by Governor Brewer’s closest advisor and strategist, Chuck Coughlin who founded and oversees Arizona’s HighGround firm. As noted, Noble and Coughlin are two of the best Republican consultants in the state of Arizona. Both their firms are ready to lock horns in the governor’s race with teams that will make the Republican primary battle very exciting to watch.
Both Doug Ducey and Scott Smith are also strong leaders in their respective arenas. They know how to campaign effectively and are very good with audiences. They also have the capacity to bring a lot of money to the table for their teams. On the GOP spectrum, Ducey draws out support from the grassroots while Smith tends to identify with the establishment.
At the present, Ducey’s assertiveness for this race has been a little below the radar while Smith’s team has been actively taking advantage of opportunities to boost the mayor’s profile. We saw this recently in Smith’s election as President of the US Conference of Mayors. This makes sense from Smith’s perspective since his profile is highest in the east valley and Ducey has already obtained statewide name recognition.
This race will be very tight as money, leadership style, likability and their respective teams are evenly matched.
Here's today's press release from Ducey:
Arizona State Treasurer Doug Ducey announced today that former Senator Jon Kyl has agreed to lead a group of policy advisers for his recently-announced exploratory committee for the 2014 governor's race.
"Throughout his career Jon Kyl has proven himself to be one of the most thoughtful, perceptive and patriotic public servants in the country," said Ducey. "His entire public life is built on substance and solutions, and I'm delighted that he is standing with us, providing the benefits of his knowledge and wisdom in the days ahead."
"Doug Ducey's leadership style is to first ground himself in the substance of the critical issues facing our state. I respect that," said Senator Kyl. "His skills, his knowledge of business management, his conservative credentials, and his proven record as State Treasurer are precisely what are needed for Arizona."
Senator Kyl will be leading a policy group for Ducey 2014 that includes:
Cathi Herrod, highly respected lawyer and Arizona's leading advocate for the foundational values of life, traditional marriage and family, and religious liberty.
The Honorable Robert Fannin, former U.S. Ambassador to the Dominican Republic, former Chair of the Arizona Republican Party, and a highly respected leader in business and law.
The Honorable Bill Montgomery, Maricopa County Attorney. A West Point Graduate who received the Bronze Star for his service in the Gulf War. He then graduated Magna Cum Laude from the ASU College of Law receiving the Order of the Coif.
Lea Marquez Peterson, an entrepreneur and advocate for the Southern Arizona business community. Lea runs the largest Latino business organization in the State of Arizona.
Randy Kendrick, lawyer, founder and past president of the Virginia Women Attorneys Association, health care policy expert, and philanthropist.
Ducey added, "I'm fortunate to have such policy grounded leaders advising me, and I'm grateful to each of them for giving time and energy to my exploratory committee for governor."