By Alexis Levinson
“Ice cream brings people together,” according to Arizona state treasurer, Doug Ducey. “Of course, government is dramatically different from ice cream.”
But Ducey hopes he can parlay the lessons he learned as the chief executive officer of ice cream company Cold Stone Creamery into a job as the governor of Arizona next year.
Ducey is one in a crowded field of Republican hopefuls vying for the governorship next year, when current Republican Gov. Jan Brewer will leave office. For the past four years, he has served as Arizona’s state treasurer — but what he really wants to talk about is his time at the helm of Cold Stone Creamery, which he helped grow from a local store to a company with franchises all over the country and the world, before selling the company in 2007.
“I built a company, a team, and a brand that started right here. It was an American success story and it started right here in Arizona,” Ducey told The Daily Caller in a phone interview. He would like to the state of Arizona to have a similar success story, he said, and he thinks some of the same principles he used in managing Cold Stone would apply. He talks about a strategy called “search and reapply,” that he credits to Procter and Gamble, where he worked before coming to Cold Stone.
“If you saw a better idea or business anywhere in the world, and you could reapply it legally and ethically and with attribution, you were supposed to do that,” he explained. “And I used that learning in building Cold Stone. We looked at McDonalds’ franchise model, which is the finest franchise model in the world; we looked at Subway’s unit economic model; we looked at Starbucks’ branding model. And I think that governor’s in states should do the same thing: they should look at other states that do a better job than their states in whatever category they want to focus on.”
Specifically, he said he would like to move toward an income tax model like the one in Tennessee, Florida, and Texas, states with no income tax. He would like to create a business friendly environment to draw people away from California, which he believes has terrible taxation policies, in the same way that he sees Indiana drawing business away from Illinois. Louisiana, Indiana and Tennessee are models for “improvement in K-12 education.”
Ducey said he would also like to reach out to some of the governors of those states and “learn from them,” specifically citing Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, and Texas Gov. Rick Perry. (RELATED: Meet the gubernatorial candidate who stood up to the NSA and the Chinese)
As for the current governor of Arizona, Ducey gives her high marks.
“I give Gov. Brewer an incredible amount of credit for coming into a crisis like situation that she did not create, and she had to make decisions to dig out of this financial hole. And I believe she can hold her head high about the financial conditions that the state of Arizona is and the opportunity that the next governor has to build on that,” he said of her tenure.
He said that he, like her, would have vetoed the religious freedom bill that would have offered legal protection for business owners who to denied services to homosexuals on religious grounds. “I think there are legitimate concerns on both sides, but I think as a chief executive, you role again is to protect the citizens and protect the economy and this was something that we came out and said we would veto it,” he said.
On immigration, another hot topic during Brewer’s tenure as governor of the border state, Ducey takes a hard line.
“I think it really starts with border security,” Ducey said. “I come at this from the perspective of the federal government’s first job is to protect their citizens, and our federal government has failed the citizens of Arizona.” He pointed to the 2010 murder of Robert Krentz, a rancher who was gunned down by an illegal immigrant near the border.
“What did our federal government do? They put up signs in the desert warning us that there are bad people among us,” Ducey said. “That’s a failure of leadership.So I’m for an all of the above approach, including fencing, satellites and new technology. Whatever it takes to get our borders safe and protect our citizens. It’s not only an immigration issue; it’s a national security issue.”
His primary focus as governor would be the economy.
“I built a company, now I would like to shrink a government and grow an economy,” he said. “We’re out talking a lot about getting Arizona’s economy moving again. We think if the state stands for – if Arizona stands for any one single idea it’s opportunity for all, good jobs, and a chance to get ahead.”
His credentials for making that happen, he said, are his time as Cold Stone, but also his years as state treasurer.
“I think by any measurement of good management, our total assets are growing faster and in better condition today than they were when I took office three years ago. I also killed a $1 billion tax increase called Proposition 204, so I demonstrated conservative leadership in keeping a temporary tax temporary. And least year, for a change, Arizonan’s tax actually went down, as a result of prop 204 losing in every county in the state,” Ducey said. He also pointed to Proposition 118, a bill that brought more money to K-12 education.
Ducey admits to one weakness during the interview: chocolate. His favorite thing at Cold Stone is a combination called Chocolate Devotion, which is chocolate ice cream, with chocolate chips, brownie, and fudge.
“I like to put it in a chocolate dipped waffle cone, typically dipped in Heath Bar or Butterfinger. But the more chocolate the better … Chocolate is definitely my weakness.”
By Alexis Levinson