Gov. Jan Brewer faces a little-known moderate Tuesday in a Republican primary election contest that saw her prospects boosted by her signing of a controversial law targeting illegal immigration. Attorney General Terry Goddard was unopposed for the Democratic nomination.
Brewer signed the immigration law on April 23, defending its provisions targeting illegal immigrants’ presence in the state as necessary due to a porous border, while Goddard has said a more comprehensive approach should focus on targeting smuggling cartels.
However, some of the steam went out of the illegal immigration issue when a judge blocked key parts from being implemented, and the general election campaign is expected to increasingly focus on economic issues as the nominees talk about how they’d create more jobs.
The recession has cratered the homebuilding industry and carved out huge holes in the state budget.
The state’s fiscal troubles were the dominant issue facing Brewer as the Republican primary race began, with challengers criticizing her for championing a temporary sales tax increase to help close budget deficits.
But her standing improved, at least in the Republican primary, when she signed the immigration law and voters approved the tax increase a month later.
Yavapai County businessman Buz Mills in July suspended his mostly self-funded campaign for the Republican nomination after trailing in polls despite spending more than $3 million. However, Mills didn’t formally withdraw from the race.
State Treasurer Dean Martin formally withdrew from the race but too late for his name to be pulled from the ballot. Votes cast for him will be tablulated but won’t count in official results.
Brewer’s only active opponent in the closing month of the campaign was Matthew Jette, a former pharmaceutical salesman now working as a part-time university instructor. Jette said Brewer’s handling of the state’s ongoing budget trouble has undercut the state’s future and that her signing of the immigration law was shortsighted and divisive.
Paradise Valley Mayor Vernon Parker and Tucson attorney John Munger withdrew earlier.
Brewer was the elected secretary of state when she became governor in January 2009 when Democrat Janet Napolitano resigned to join President Barack Obama’s Cabinet.
Goddard, a former Phoenix mayor, unsuccessfully ran twice for governor in the early 1990s, losing a 1991 runoff to Republican Fife Symington and a 1994 primary race.