Arizona Gov. Ducey To Give Virtual State Of The State Address

By Ben Giles
Howard Fischer, Capitol Media Services
Published: Monday, January 4, 2021 - 6:25pm
Updated: Tuesday, January 5, 2021 - 10:54am

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Doug Ducey Arizona State of the State 2020
Howard Fischer/Capitol Media Services
Gov. Doug Ducey gives his State of the State address on Monday, Jan. 13, 2020.

Gov. Doug Ducey is going to give his penultimate State of the State address Monday from the safety of his own office.

In an announcement Monday, press aide C.J. Karamargin said his boss is simply complying with what the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says is the prudent choice to avoid further spread of COVID-19.

"CDC guidelines about large public gatherings are pretty clear," he told Capitol Media Services. "Avoid them."

There is a constitutional requirement for the governor to communicate with the legislature every session about "the condition of the state." The constitution also requires him to "recommend such matters as he shall deem expedient."

But there appears to be no specific requirement for an in-person speech in what has become for many, Ducey included, a chance to detail all of the prior year's accomplishments to an audience of mostly partisan supporters. Instead, the requirement is only that he provide a "message" to the legislature, with no method specified.

"We are fulfilling our responsibilities with the address," said Karamargin, saying all governors have given in-person speeches.

"Gov. Ducey will follow that tradition," he said, even if the remote speech is apparently unprecedented, to comply with those CDC guidelines.

The governor, however, did not show similar concerns in a series of rallies he held last fall with President Trump. Neither the governor nor the president wore masks, nor most of the thousands of Trump supporters in crowds both in front of and behind the stage.

Karamargin declined to answer any questions about what is different now and why it is less safe to have a speech from the House chambers where attendance can be limited than it is at a rally.

A remote broadcast also means that Ducey will not run into reporters with questions following his speech as he leaves the House floor.

One other thing that will be different is that there will be no need for the governor to pause at spots in his address that speechwriters have designed as applause lines, usually marked on the prompter he uses with type in a different color. This time there is no audience to react.

The governor cannot run for reelection after his current term ends in 2022, meaning he gets only one more opportunity, after this year, to give a State of the State speech. Ducey has not said what his future political plans entail.

Andrew Wilder, a spokesman for House Republicans, said Ducey’s decision to forgo an in-person speech will not affect the chamber’s own constitutional requirements. Both the House and Senate must begin the session at noon, swear in lawmakers, and elect officers in each chamber.

“The House of Representatives will still conduct its opening day ceremonies as we traditionally do, however, with some appropriate accommodations made in light of COVID,” Wilder said.

Since Ducey won’t be giving his address in person, Wilder confirmed the House won’t invite senators to the House chamber to listen to the governor’s speech as they traditionally would.

The House will also limit the number of guests allowed at the opening ceremony, Wilder said.

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