Governor Jan Brewer has just been handed a gem of an opportunity:
The ability to look good in the eyes of liberals by rejecting a bill widely seen as blatantly discriminatory, while retaining her conservative base.
Or in the alternative, the chance to win wider support from conservatives.
Either way, this could affect her decision -- and yours -- about whether she should run for an apparently illegal third term in office.
A prominent veto with wide appeal could be just what she's looking for to gain political support from independents and left-leaners.
On the other hand, it was the infamous, anti-illegal-immigrant Senate Bill 1070 that made her a national conservative icon. Perhaps she's hoping for a repeat of that success, which'll give her a three-peat as governor.
Brewer has yet to rule out the idea of pursuing the third term. In an election year, that means her actions can still be perceived as campaign-minded.
Brewer believes it's possible that the term-limit law means two full terms to which she was elected. Brewer never got to serve a full first term, having finished out the time in office that remained following Janet Napolitano's abandonment of the state in 2009 to become Homeland Security Secretary -- the job that resulted in Napolitano, a Democrat, now receiving jeers on liberal college campuses.
A third term for Brewer would require challenging the Arizona Constitution. In 1992, voters approved term limits that amended the constitution with the following language:
No member of the executive department after serving the maximum number of terms, which shall include any part of a term served, may serve in the same office until out of office for no less than one full term.
From an Arizona Republic article in November:
Joe Kanefield, former general counsel to Brewer who is now in private practice, said the legal question centers on the definition of "term." He has said drafters were referring to a governor who was elected to a term and not to a governor who inherited the office by succession.
"I haven't ruled it out, and I've been encouraged by people -- legal scholars and other people -- that it's probably something that I ought to pursue," Brewer told The Arizona Republic.
Brewer has five days to either sign the discrimination bill, veto it, or let it become law by inaction.
According to the liberal Wonkette blog, "In 2013, Jan Brewer stopped being crazy." Writer Rebecca Schoenkopf gives Brewer credit for expanding Medicaid in Arizona, disagreeing with conservatives who claimed Santa Claus must be "white," and taking other moderate actions. Vetoing this "Duck Dynasty" bill might be part of Brewer's perceived sanity break.
And maybe that will help her find public support for a third term.
If it comes down to a court, an Arizona judge might shy from standing in the way of voters being allowed to select the governor they want -- especially after she vetoes a bill that seems to allow Jim Crow-style discrimination.
What do you think is the best course of action for Brewer with this bill, if she's really going to try and run again? Take our poll:
Got a tip? Send it to: Ray Stern.
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