In Governor's Race, Will Arizona Immigration Law Be Decisive?

Article excerpt

The governor's race will pit the governor who signed the Arizona immigration law, Jan Brewer, against the attorney general who refused to defend it in court, Terry Goddard.

No sooner had the polls closed in Arizona's Tuesday primary than Republican Gov. Jan Brewer lashed out.

She blasted Democratic challenger Terry Goddard as a big- government candidate, saying he "cut from the same cloth" as her predecessor Janet Napolitano, now the secretary of Homeland Security, and President Obama.

Ms. Napolitano's propensity for big spending while serving as Arizona governor plunged the state into economic ruin, and Obama is doing the same to the country, Governor Brewer told a group of Republicans here in Tucson - a Democratic stronghold in a mostly conservative state - after her easy primary victory.

The candidates' war of words during the primary portends a contentious general election campaign, one likely to play out in the national spotlight given Brewer's primary role in the state's defiance of the Obama administration over illegal immigration.

"Immigration in Arizona polls well above any other issue," says Doug Cole, Brewer's campaign spokesman.

Brewer's immigration boost

As the campaign kicks off, the governor holds a double-digit lead over Mr. Goddard, thanks largely to the anti-illegal immigration law she signed in April and her subsequent defense of it despite a lawsuit by the Obama administration. Goddard is perhaps the state's highest profile opponent of the law, and he removed himself from the legal team defending the law from legal challenges because of his opposition to it.

But Goddard says he's confident he will regain his early strong showing once voters realize she is hiding behind illegal immigration to avoid dealing with Arizona's fiscal crisis. Mr. Cole says Brewer will be ready to address other issues, such as the economy and the state budget.

Brewer, the former secretary of State who ascended to the governor's office in January 2009 when Napolitano left for Washington, experienced a difficult first year in office, often butting heads with members of her own party. …