By backing Trump’s Mexico tariffs, Ducey in conflict with business and GOP allies

By: - June 3, 2019 4:20 pm

Gov. Doug Ducey speaking at a campaign rally for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in August 2016. Photo by Gage Skidmore | Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

In supporting President Donald Trump’s threat to impose tariffs on Mexico in an attempt to halt illegal immigration, Gov. Doug Ducey is standing against some of his biggest allies.

Ducey has long been the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s beau ideal of a governor, a businessman-turned-politician who brings his professional experience to the state’s top office to implement free-market policies. But the organization, along with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, has come out vehemently against the tariffs, decrying them as nothing more than a tax on Americans.

In a tweet following Trump’s announcement on May 30, Ducey said he’s generally opposed to tariffs and that he deeply values Arizona’s relationship with Mexico, but that he prioritizes “national security and a solution to our humanitarian crisis at the border above commerce.”

Ducey doubled down on his support for the tariffs, telling Capitol Media Services on Monday that the “U.S. Chamber is going to prioritize commerce,” while “the Arizona governor is going to prioritize safety.”

Among the four governors whose states share a border with Mexico, Ducey stands alone. The opposition of California’s Gavin Newsom and New Mexico’s Michelle Lujan Grisham, both Democrats, to Trump’s policy was predictable. But Ducey doesn’t even have an ally in Republican Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas, who has long advocated a hardline stance on border security.

Arizona’s other top-ranking Republican, U.S. Sen. Martha McSally, took the opposite approach of Ducey.

McSally has allied herself closely with Trump, but broke with the president over the proposed tariffs. She said she supports Trump’s goal of stopping curbing illegal immigration, but nonethless opposes the tariffs, “which will harm our economy and be passed onto Arizona small businesses and families.” Ducey in late 2018 appointed McSally to the U.S. Senate to fill the seat once held by Sen. John McCain.

Arizona’s other senator, Democrat Kyrsten Sinema, also opposed the proposed tariffs.

Support for the tariffs was stronger among Arizona’s Republican delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives. Reps. Andy Biggs and Paul Gosar, both members of the conservative Freedom Caucus, voiced support for the tariffs. Fellow Freedom Caucus member Debbie Lesko has yet to publicly weigh in.

Of Arizona’s Republican delegation, only Rep. David Schweikert, also a Freedom Caucus member, came out against the tariffs.

Trump threatened to impose a 5-percent tariff on Mexican goods starting on June 10, “until such time as illegal migrants coming through Mexico, and into our Country, STOP.” The tariffs would ratchet up to 10 percent on July 1, and increase by 5 percent each month until they reach 25 percent in October.

According to a U.S. Chamber of Commerce analysis, a 5 percent tariff would cost Arizonans an additional $452 million per year. At 25 percent, Arizonans would pay nearly $2.3 billion extra annually.

Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry CEO Glenn Hamer, who for years has been one of Ducey’s biggest supporters, called the tariffs a tax on hardworking families that will be “terribly damaging” if implemented. He warned that they will harm American consumers and called them a “prescription for a self-induced economic slowdown.”

Despite their differing views on Trump’s tariffs, the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry continued to stand by Ducey.

“The governor is doing an excellent job doing all he can to make sure the border remains economically competitive and secure. And we would anticipate that, thanks to his leadership, he will continue to elevate these issues, both in Sonora, Washington, D.C., and Mexico City,” Chamber spokesman Garrick Taylor told the Arizona Mirror. “Gov. Ducey is a steadfast champion of trade between our state and Sonora, as well as our country and Mexico. Nothing has changed in that regard.”

Asked how he could say nothing has changed regarding Ducey’s support for cross-border trade, Taylor said only that the governor “remains a steadfast champion for free and fair trade.”

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Jeremy Duda
Jeremy Duda

Jeremy Duda is a Phoenix native and began his career in journalism in 2003 after graduating from the University of Arizona. Jeremy Duda previously served as the Mirror's associate Editor. Prior to joining the Arizona Mirror, he worked at the Arizona Capitol Times, where he spent eight years covering the Governor's Office and two years as editor of the Yellow Sheet Report. Before that, he wrote for the Hobbs News-Sun of Hobbs, NM, and the Daily Herald of Provo, Utah. Jeremy is also the author of the history book “If This Be Treason: the American Rogues and Rebels Who Walked the Line Between Dissent and Betrayal.”