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Brewer: Arizona needs tough leader for tough times

There is no doubt that times were tough when Jan Brewer took over as governor, and tough times call for a tough leader. That leader, Brewer said as she announced her candidacy for 2010, is her.

Speaking to dozens of supporters at the Renaissance Glendale Hotel and Spa on Nov. 5, Brewer formally announced what most observers had expected for months – that she will seek a full term as governor. Brewer spoke of the myriad problems facing Arizona, including a budget deficit created by “years of overspending and living beyond our means,” and pledged to create a climate that would encourage economic growth and provide the high quality education needed to provide a skilled workforce.

“I’m not running for a second term because I aspire to some other elected office. I want to remain governor because I want to serve the people of Arizona. My campaign will be about people, not politics,” she said.

Brewer also pledged to balance the budget, but made no mention of the temporary sales tax increase she has proposed. That proposal has fueled discontent in Republican ranks, and several candidates have declared their intention to challenge her in the primary as a result.

Brewer was introduced by the co-chairs of her campaign committee, former Arizona Attorney General Grant Woods and former U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters. Woods said Brewer would run a policy-oriented campaign, and said she would not shy away from making tough choices.

While the two haven’t always seen eye-to-eye on a number of issues, Woods said he is supporting Brewer because she will do what she believes is right, and because she, like Arizona’s iconic former Sen. Barry Goldwater, will call it as she sees it.

“She’s proven that she’s a tough leader for tough times. Our governor stood fast for principle and for trying to solve problems, even when it meant she had to suffer the slings and arrows from the right, from the left, from the Republicans and from the Democrats. She stood tall for the people she said she would always keep in her heart and in her mind,” Woods said.

Peters said Brewer, as a wife and mother, is someone who understands what Arizona families need. She said the governor would gather the best policy minds in the state to help create solutions to Arizona’s problems.

“She knows that we must develop the policy framework to provide the right tax and regulatory structure; good quality and accessible education for all of our citizens; and infrastructure that will attract businesses to Arizona and provide them with a quality workforce here,” Peters said. “She is the right leader for Arizona’s future.”

Though there was no shortage of supporters on hand for the announcement, Brewer may have trouble drumming up support from the Republican rank and file for her campaign. In several recent polls she sported some of the worst approval ratings of any governor in the country, and her tax increase proposal has fractured a Republican Party that was practically giddy with enthusiasm when she took over for departed Democratic Gov. Janet Napolitano. Brewer’s budget proposal failed twice in the Legislature, and there was a notable lack of Republican lawmakers at the announcement.

But Arizona Republican Party Chairman Randy Pullen praised the job Brewer has done as governor. He said Republicans will get the best candidate when the primary is over and indicated that he expects her to best the handful or candidates who are lining up to challenge her for the nomination.

“As the primary process moves along I think that she will prove that she’s probably the best candidate,” Pullen told reporters after the announcement. Pullen also took a swipe at Attorney General Terry Goddard, the presumed Democratic nominee who filed an exploratory committee the following day. “If Goddard could say the one person he doesn’t want to run against it would probably be Jan Brewer, because they’ve been in this state as contemporaries for a long, long time, and Jan has always been a great candidate.”

While telling the crowd that she wants to serve in the spirit of legendary Arizona politicians such as Goldwater, Carl Hayden, Bob Stump, Mo Udall, John Rhodes and Sandra Day O’Connor, Brewer also invoked the name of founding father John Adams. She told the story of the future president preparing to travel from Boston to Philadelphia on the way to the Continental Congress in 1774. Writing to his wife, Adams said the journey would be long, but that he would continue because “great things are wanted to be done.”

“I believe I am the right person to finish the challenging tasks that are ahead of us. And, yes, the race ahead of us will be a difficult one. But I intend to win it,” Brewer said. “I intend to win it because great things are wanted to be done in Arizona.”

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