- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 27, 2014

PHOENIX (AP) - Democrat Fred DuVal faced his first attack ad Wednesday as the general election contest in the Arizona governor’s race kicked off in earnest.

Republican nominee Doug Ducey and DuVal were preparing to launch tours around the state the day after Ducey scored a resounding victory in a six-way GOP primary and DuVal moved on to the general uncontested.

The hit against DuVal, launched by the Republican Governor’s Association, shows that the race is sure to be gritty and possibly ugly.

The RGA ad blamed DuVal for a big rise in tuition at the state’s three four-year universities during his tenure as a member of the Board of Regents.

“Under DuVal, tuition and fees rose 99 percent, doubling the price of college,” the ad’s narrator says.

DuVal said the ad ignores the reasons for the boosts and blamed the tuition increases on cuts made by lawmakers and Republican Gov. Jan Brewer.

“The Legislature and the governor subtracted over $400 million from the universities, and we cut the universities aggressively, but the one thing we weren’t going to do is close campuses,” DuVal said. “Coming out of the tuition increases I led a significant redesign initiative that has led to lower costs for more students.”

That included higher financial aid, coordinating classes with community colleges to cut overall cost for a degree and produced the only year of no tuition increases when he was chairman in 2011-2012.

DuVal has made education the centerpiece of his campaign, saying cuts to primary and secondary schools made during the recession need to be restored.

Ducey, meanwhile, put together a broad coalition of backers from the middle and the far right, gaining support from the business community and tea party supporters in his bid to win the Republican primary for Arizona governor.

He said in an interview Wednesday that he hopes to increase that coalition and work toward a November victory.

“I intend to make the broad coalition even broader,” Ducey said. “We’re going to continue to bring people on, education champions, people that want to see a growing economy and people that want to see good common-sense ideas applied to state government. We intend to hold on to the coalition that’s we’ve built and make it even larger.”

Ducey rode to an easy victory with a campaign that focused on his blend of government and business experience in serving as a state official and building an ice cream company into a national brand.

But he also campaigned with a message to the far right of the party, slamming President Barack Obama on border security. He promised to use satellites and the National Guard to secure the border and touted support from hard-line conservatives such as Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.”

“I’m going positive with (former Republican Attorney General) Grant Woods and many other Republicans that are saying this guy is a bi-partisan, collaborative centrist,” DuVal said. “And Doug is campaigning next week with Sarah Palin. That’s the difference.”

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