Arizona Gov. Ducey says he won't run against Mark Kelly for Senate

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) closed the door on a potential Senate run in 2022 amid rumors that he could challenge Arizona Sen. Mark Kelly (D).

"I'm not running for the United States Senate. It's a no. I'm 100 percent focused on being the governor of the state of Arizona," he said in an interview with The New York Times that was published Saturday. "I've accepted the role as the chairman of the [Republican Governors Association]. So I've got a full-time job and then I've got a full-time job beyond that. And that's what my focus is." 

Kelly's seat, which he won in a special election in November and is up again in 2022 for a full term, is a top priority for Republicans in the midterms. The party is eager to make up ground in the state after ceding both of its Senate seats to Democrats and losing the presidential race to President Joe Biden, marking the first time a Democratic presidential nominee has won Arizona since 1996.

Republicans had speculated that Ducey would be a strong candidate given his proven ability to win statewide in a state that has gradually shifted to the left.

However, the governor has now been thrust into the middle of a GOP civil war that broke open after the departure of former President Trump from the White House. Ducey has been on the receiving end of an avalanche of criticism from Trump's allies after he rebuffed their demands that he decline to certify Biden's victory in the state and later attended Biden's inauguration.

Ducey is being censured by the Arizona Republican Party, which has tied itself closely to Trump, over his role in certifying the election.

When asked what the GOP needs to do to win statewide, Ducey indicated that the party needs to mend its divides if it wants to reverse its losses. 

"For Republicans across the country, we need to be thinking in addition and multiplication mode rather than subtraction and division," Ducey told the Times. "And in both races that I've had as governor, that's the posture that I've had.

"It's a broad coalition," he added. "It should be a big tent."