- Ducey said late last week that a controversial GOP state senator was still preferable to a Democrat.
- Arizona state Sen. Wendy Rogers has attracted national attention as a promoter of Trump’s debunked election claims.
- The lawmaker also has ties to Nick Fuentes, who has a history of making racist and antisemitic remarks.
Republican Gov. Doug Ducey of Arizona is being excoriated for saying that a firebrand GOP state senator who has ties to white nationalists and promotes debunked election claims is better than having a Democrat in office.
Ducey made the remarks about GOP state Rep. Wendy Rogers on Thursday following a local event in the state announcing state-funded scholarships for children in the foster care system, The Arizona Republic reported.
“What I need as a governor are governing majorities so that I can pass dollars into our social safety net, so we can provide programs like this that will help children from all over our state,” Ducey said, focusing on the senator’s importance to his legislative agenda when pressed by reporters. “That’s what I’ve wanted to do, is move my agenda forward. I’m proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish. And she is still better than her opponent, Felicia French.”
In 2020, Rogers defeated French, a Democrat and retired Army colonel, in a state senate district anchored in northern Arizona.
Ducey’s comments came just before Rogers was preparing to speak at an America First Political Action Conference in Florida on Friday. One of the event’s organizers is Nick Fuentes, who has a history of making racist and antisemitic remarks.
At the February 25 event, Rogers praised Fuentes, called those in attendance “patriots” and said she fantasized about hanging her “enemies,” which included calling for more gallows to be constructed, The Arizona Mirror reported.
“I’ve said we need to build more gallows. If we try some of these high-level criminals, convict them and use a newly built set of gallows, it’ll make an example of these traitors who have betrayed our country,” she said.
“Gov. Doug Ducey must stand with the people he swore an oath to represent and stop catering to the hate that he feels is necessary to advancing his own agenda,” they said in a joint statement.
Ducey spokesman C.J. Karamargin told The Arizona Republic that the governor rejected any form of hate.
“Gov. Ducey is not about hate,” he said. “That should be pretty clear. And for people who are suggesting otherwise, they’re just attempting to score political points.”
In 2020, the governor’s political action committee spent $500,000 for the Rogers campaign as a way to help the party maintain its legislative majorities. The effort paid off, as Republicans currently control both houses of the state legislature — albeit narrowly — even after President Joe Biden defeated former President Donald Trump in the critical swing state by less than 11,000 votes that same year.
Karamargin, however, referenced Ducey’s actions taken after the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, which he quickly decried, and the governor’s fight against antisemitism after the 2018 Pittsburgh synagogue attack.
Rogers has attracted national attention for embracing Trump’s debunked election claims, and she strongly supported the controversial Maricopa County election audit, which failed to uncover any sign of mass fraud but it did reaffirm Biden’s countywide victory over Trump.