Kelly Fryer has spent most of her life helping people — as a pastor, a political activist and most recently serving as CEO of the YWCA Southern Arizona — but now she’s stepping onto the political stage. Fryer announced on Monday night she would seek the Democratic nomination to challenge Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican, this fall.

Less than an hour before Ducey made his State of the State speech in Phoenix, Fryer said she has been thinking about running for the state’s top office for about a year.

A speaker at the local version of the Women’s March on Washington last year, Fryer said people starting approaching her after the protest.

“I’ve had folks in the community really encouraging me to consider this as far back as last year’s women’s march,” she said.

She believes the Ducey administration has done nothing to help some of the state’s most-vulnerable populations.

“Frankly, I am tired of watch people struggle because of the things our legislators are doing,” she said.

“It is time for us to take the reins and turn things around.”

And Fryer believes she has unique talents to lead Arizona in a new direction.

“I’ve spent my entire career, especially these last years in Arizona, working with and beside people in our community — women, people of color, LGBT folks, people who have been sidelined. People whose voices are not being heard, people who are not being taken seriously,” Fryer said.

Friends and family all have been supportive of Fryer’s decision to enter the race.

The first person she told was her spouse.

“Her reaction was ‘It is about time,’” Fryer said.

Some, however, were concerned for her well-being.

“They are afraid to get involved in politics, they are afraid to get involved in their own government because of how mean-spirited it is,” Fryer said.

Dark money, she predicts, will continue to be a problem in politics as it gives her would-be political opponents opportunities to spread lies about her and to do it anonymously.

But Fryer stresses that she isn’t a single-issue candidate.

“I happen to be a mom, I happen to have a wife and I happen to be a woman and I happen to have spent my career with folks who’ve been left on the sidelines,” she said. “I care about a lot of issues. I am not running on one particular issue.”

Fryer faces competition within her party for the nomination.In April, Arizona State University professor David Garcia announced he was a candidate for governor and would seek the Democratic nomination. Garcia may be best-known as a candidate for state schools superintendent in 2014, when he lost to Republican Diane Douglas.

In June, public-artist-turned- politician state Sen. Steve Farley formally threw his hat into the 2018 governor’s race.

The Tucson Democrat has been a state senator since 2013.


ontact reporter Joe Ferguson at or 573-4197. On Twitter: @JoeFerguson


Reporter with the Arizona Daily Star. I cover politics as well as the city of Tucson and other municipalities in Southern Arizona.