Josh Goodman is a former staff writer for GOVERNING..E-mail: email@example.com
Everyone knows that Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer made a political comeback because she signed SB 1070, the state's controversial immigration bill. But Robert Robb, a columnist with the Arizona Republic, told me that everyone is wrong.
Robb told me yesterday that it wasn't Brewer's signature that switched her from being an underdog in today's Republican primary to being a heavy favorite. Instead, he said, the way the rest of the country reacted was the key. "It was the extensive adverse national reaction that completely changed the political landscape," he said. "It allowed Brewer to defend the state against all these outside forces telling the state what to do. It allowed Brewer to become the defender of the state.”
So far, the Obama administration has succeeded in the policy tussle over SB 1070 by blocking the measure's most controversial provisions in court. In some states, the politics of the move also are likely to be helpful to Democrats. Unable to deliver on immigration reform, Democrats can point to their stand against SB 1070 as a tangible achievement when courting Hispanic voters.
But, the move came with a real political cost for the party, allowing Brewer, a Republican, to become a favorite in both the primary and the general election. This fall, Democrat Terry Goddard faces an unusual task: persuading voters that the economy and jobs (not immigration) should be their top concern.
By the way, Robb also told me something surprising. Thanks to term limits and the candidates who decided to run, the Republican caucuses in the Arizona legislature should be somewhat more moderate after this fall's elections.
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