Has Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard gone nativist on us, or is he just playing politics with Arizona's new "papers please" immigration law?
Goddard just announced that he'd had in-person meetings with law dogs from U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder's Justice Department and told them that if the feds seek to enjoin the law and prevent it from taking effect by the end of July, that, "Arizona will fight back."
He also vowed a "vigorous defense" if the Justice Department sues the state over the new law.
The whoosh you hear is Goddard's Hispanic support in his race for governor dropping like a hot rock.
Goddard's obliged as state AG to defend Arizona against lawsuits. Previously, he's called the law "misguided" and, has stated that SB 1070, "will do nothing to secure our border or combat the violent criminals who cross into Arizona."
He's also complained of its "unfunded mandates on law enforcement agencies" that will "take away resources from stopping more serious crimes and lead to costly lawsuits."
So his promise of a "vigorous defense" of the law reads like a shift, one that he may be hoping will help him in the polls against Jan Brewer, his likely rival in the general election for governor.
The latest Rasmussen poll has Goddard with 39 percent support statewide versus Brewer's whopping 52 percent. Clearly, Brewer wants to ride SB 1070 all the way to election in November.
Perhaps Goddard figures Hispanics will have nowhere else to go on election day. But they might not show up at all, leaving the brass ring he's been working for all of his life far beyond his reach.
The feds also met with Brewer, and many anticipate that the DOJ will soon file an action in federal court seeking an injunction against SB 1070, which the governor signed into law April 23.
The ACLU, MALDEF, the NAACP and other groups filed a lawsuit against Arizona's counties on May 17 in federal court seeking such an injunction. Goddard has stepped in to defend the counties against the action.
Today, he couched his promise of a "vigorous defense" against the feds in words meant to appeal to a middle ground.
"The people of Arizona are deeply frustrated by the federal government's inability to enact comprehensive immigration reform," Goddard said in his press release. "It is time for members of Congress to stop dithering, stop playing partisan politics and address the problem."
The "deeply frustrated" line is tailor-made for the pitchfork-carrying Teabagger who's never met a Mexican he liked, while the words "comprehensive immigration reform" are supposed to soothe the ears of all pro-immigration Dems.
Problem is, there is no middle ground in Arizona anymore, and Goddard will not be able to out-nativist Brewer, or any GOPer for that matter.
Trying to ride the middle on this issue will get him nowhere. He would be better off showing continued opposition to the law, vowing to overturn it should he become governor. Even if he has to defend the state, he could do so "reluctantly."
That would show leadership, at least. The last thing this state needs is another Quisling Democrat, who will surely loose if he tries to parrot the Republican line.