Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey speaks at a ceremony in Phoenix on December 7, 2021.
CNN  — 

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has endorsed Republican candidate Karrin Taylor Robson in the race to succeed him as the top executive in the critical battleground state, putting him at odds with former President Donald Trump, who is backing former television anchor Kari Lake in the GOP gubernatorial primary.

“I’ve looked at each of the candidates for Governor this year, and there’s no question who is the proven conservative ready to lead on Day One: Karrin Taylor Robson,” Ducey, who is term-limited, said in a statement released Thursday by the Taylor Robson campaign.

Ducey’s move to back Taylor Robson comes as early voting began this week ahead of the state’s August 2 primary.

It also thrusts the governor back into a political showdown with Trump in a now two-year clash over election lies about the Arizona election system.

Trump has endorsed Lake, a firebrand first-time candidate and former Phoenix television anchor, who is a leading promoter of lies about the 2020 election results. By choosing to back Taylor Robson, Ducey is throwing his considerable Arizona political force behind the strongest challenger to Lake.

“Governor Ducey has been a strong conservative leader who has trimmed government, gotten our fiscal house in order and turned Arizona into a beacon of economic opportunity,” Taylor Robson said in the news release. “As Governor, I intend to build on that legacy.”

Trump mounted a public and sustained attack against Ducey shortly after the November 2020 election, which saw Trump lose Arizona to Joe Biden. Ducey defended his state’s election process, tweeting, “That’s the law. I’ve sworn an oath to uphold it, and I take my responsibility seriously.”

Trump responded by raising baseless voter fraud allegations and then blasting out statement after statement in a sustained, monthslong attack on Ducey for following state laws. Ducey, courted by national Republicans to run for the US Senate as a challenger to Democratic incumbent Mark Kelly, decided to not run.

Despite Trump’s ire, Ducey has remained a popular figure in Arizona among moderates and establishment Republicans, even as the former President maintains a strong hold on the Arizona GOP base.

Ducey has sparred with Lake publicly during the primary. After Lake criticized the governor for not being strong enough on the US-Mexico border, Ducey struck back, telling The Arizona Republic that the candidate was “making things up.”

Ducey has yearslong ties to Taylor Robson, having appointed her to the Arizona Board of Regents in 2017. Last week, Taylor Robson earned the endorsement of former US Rep. Matt Salmon, a day after he ended his bid for the GOP gubernatorial nomination.