Arizona Daily Star, Tucson Democrat Sen. Steve Farley enters 2018 race for governor

State Sen. Steve Farley is betting that Arizona doesn’t want another round of Gov. Doug Ducey’s politics and policies.

The public-artist- turned-politician formally threw his hat into the 2018 governor’s race Monday, roughly six months after he formed a campaign committee to run for governor.

The Tucson Democrat quickly set his sights on his would-be rival, listing what he says are bad policies Ducey has ushered in since taking office in 2015.

“Over time, everything I saw coming out of the governor’s office demonstrated the wrong priorities time and time and time again,” he said.

Top of the list is the expansion of school vouchers under Ducey to allow children to attend private schools, pulling millions out of public education.

“Ninety-five percent of Arizona kids go to public school, so it’s harming all our schools,” Farley said.

Priorities like those, he said, are designed solely to elevate Ducey’s political profile on the national stage.

“We need somebody who’s going to govern Arizona for Arizona who doesn’t really have any interest at all in national office,” he said.

Elected to the state House in 2006, Farley said he wants to eliminate up to $3 billion in tax cuts to businesses and redirect funding to K-12 education.

He is quick to offer the example of eliminating the tax break for buying personal jets, but to add billions of dollars back into state coffers would require substantial tax reforms.

“We can find $2 billion from sales-tax loopholes,” he said. “There is $37 billion to choose from.”

Farley also said he will fight against any cuts in Medicaid, signaling he is aware that some of his colleagues across the aisle might be willing to cut coverage as a part of federal health-care reform.

Believing Democrats will pick up seats during next year’s midterm election, Farley said voters won’t be willing to back candidates who’d consider drastic cuts in Medicaid.

“Ultimately, folks are not ready to vote for somebody who says you should punish people for being poor,” he said.

Farley knows he faces a numbers problem, as Democrats trail Republicans and independents regarding party registration in the state. Current figures have 1.2 million registered Republicans, 1.2 million registered independents and 1.1 million registered Democrats.

A state senator since 2013, Farley said he had high hopes for Ducey when he was first elected.

“He was talking about wanting to work across the partisan divide, and I was like yeah, that’s exactly what I’m about — allies to get together to get this stuff done.”

But, he said, partisan lines were drawn shortly after Ducey took office. Ducey hasn’t announced his re-election plans, but he already has formed a campaign committee.

Farley faces competition within his party for the nomination.

In April, Arizona State University professor David Garcia announced he was a candidate for governor and would seek the Democratic nomination. Garcia may be best-known as a candidate for state school superintendent in 2014, where he lost to Republican Diane Douglas.

Noah Dyer, another Democratic candidate, might be best-known for publishing details of his sex life on his campaign website, under the title “scandal and controversy.”

All three have put educational reform as a top priority.

June 5, 2017