Arizona Republican Gov. Doug Ducey
CNN  — 

On Thursday, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey endorsed a fellow Republican to succeed him when he leaves office early next year.

“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 said in a statement

Ducey’s GOP primary endorsement wasn’t terribly surprising, as he had appointed Taylor Robson to the Arizona Board of Regents five years ago.

But it was noteworthy because it put him directly at odds with former President Donald Trump. Again.

See, Trump has endorsed former local TV anchor Kari Lake in the Arizona governor’s race. (Lake is a high-profile election denier.)

“She is against Covid lockdowns, Cancel Culture, and will end ‘woke’ curriculum in our schools,” Trump said in announcing his endorsement of Lake in September 2021. “She will do a far better job than RINO Governor Doug Ducey–won’t even be a contest!”

Why, you ask, doesn’t Trump like Ducey, who has governed as a down-the-line conservative? Because Ducey refused to go along with Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election in the state was fraudulent. 

“Why is he rushing to put a Democrat in office, especially when so many horrible things concerning voter fraud are being revealed at the hearing going on right now…Republicans will long remember,” Trump tweeted of Ducey in November 2020.

Ducey refused to back down. Of the sham audit conducted in the state in 2021, the governor tweeted: “When it comes to the audit, like the three audits that preceded it, it’s now over. The outcome stands and the 2020 election in Arizona is over.”

Ducey, who co-chairs the Republican Governors Association, also faced off against Trump earlier this spring when he traveled to Georgia to campaign for Gov. Brian Kemp. Trump had savaged Kemp for – you guessed it – not going along with his election fraud claims in the state and endorsed former Sen. David Perdue in the Republican primary. Kemp trounced Perdue by more than 50 points.

Ducey’s endorsement of Taylor Robson then is simply the latest skirmish in his ongoing war with Trump. The primary, which is set for August 2, is already being painted as political tug of war between the former President and the governor.

The Point: Regardless of who wins, Ducey represents the rare Republican politician – albeit one who is term-limited – who refuses to bow at Trump’s altar.