In a letter to donors also obtained by POLITICO, Ducey wrote that “you have to really want the job” if you’re going to run for office. He said “right now I have the job I want, and my intention is to close my years of service to Arizona with a very productive final legislative session AND to help elect Republican governors across the country in my role as chairman of the Republican Governors Association.”
His comments to his financial backers echo similar public statements the governor has made for the past year, but the looming filing deadline give them a finality that until now has been lacking.
Ducey in the letter recalled a conversation more than a decade ago with former U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl, who asked, “Are you an executive or are you a legislator?”
“The answer was obvious,” Ducey wrote. “By nature and by training I’m an executive.”
Former President Donald Trump has made Ducey a frequent target of abuse, criticizing him over the past year for his refusal to embrace election fraud conspiracies. In June, the former president said the Ducey “could not get the nomination” for Senate if he ran, and Trump continued to disparage the governor in recent statements and during a rally in Arizona last month.
Trump has yet to get behind anyone in the state’s Senate primary, despite endorsing in Arizona’s gubernatorial and secretary of state races this year.
The “only downside” to not running for Senate, Ducey told donors, is not being able to serve with McConnell.
“I consider him an historic figure and one of the Titans of the Senate, and I am supportive of everything he’s doing to elect Republican senators and wrest back control from Chuck Schumer,” Ducey said.
McConnell has made no secret of his desire to recruit Ducey to help him take back the Senate. In a statement to POLITICO he called the governor a “good man and a great leader. While I’m disappointed he decided not to run, Arizona will be an important part of our plan to win the majority back.”
Chris Hartline, a spokesperson for the NRSC, said Republicans “have great candidates running in Arizona, one of whom will beat Mark Kelly in November.”
Ducey’s decision to bypass the race removes a potential obstacle for the other Republican candidates, including state Attorney General Mark Brnovich; Blake Masters, a venture capitalist; and Jim Lamon, an energy executive self-funding his campaign.
The Arizona governor’s name has been floated as a potential 2024 presidential contender, including as a possible Republican alternative to Trump. The state’s next Senate election is also in 2024, when Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema is up for reelection.
Burgess Everett and Marianne LeVine contributed to this report.