Gov. Jan Brewer and other Republican candidates are moving to make controversy surrounding Arizona’s illegal immigration law an election issue by putting a spotlight on Democratic rivals’ backing by unions that support an economic boycott of the state.
Brewer was joined Tuesday by Republican candidates for statewide offices and congressional seats in issuing separate statements calling on their respective Democratic rivals to reject endorsements and other support from unions that support a boycott.
“Democrats like Terry Goddard can claim to be against the boycott, but when it comes down to it, he embraces the union interests who are leading the effort to kill Arizona’s economy,” Brewer said in a statement released by her campaign.
Goddard campaign spokeswoman Janey Pearl said Goddard opposes the boycott but can’t control who endorses him. “But unions endorse him because he stands up for working people which is something she doesn’t do,” Pearl said, referring to Brewer.
Goddard, the state attorney general, has been trying to focus voters on the state’s poor economy and budget troubles, which he says Brewer has mishandled.
The Republicans’ move was coordinated by Brewer’s campaign, Brewer campaign spokesman Doug Cole said. “We are working together as a Republican ticket to contrast our ideas and value against our opponents.”
Besides Brewer, participating Republican candidates included several congressional hopefuls and candidates for secretary of state, attorney general, treasurer, superintendent of public instruction and mine inspector.
Brewer’s primary election campaign surged after she signed the law on April 23, but it’s not clear whether she and other Republicans will benefit from the illegal immigration issue in the general election. A judge blocked key provisions from taking effect on July 29.
The Service Employees International Union and the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union are among unions supporting both the boycott and various Democratic candidates.
The SEIU has denounced the Arizona immigration law as “radical and unjust,” while the UFCW said it was participating in the boycott because the Arizona law was unconstitutional and a “recipe for racial profiling.”
Felicia Rotellini, the Democratic attorney general nominee, said she didn’t know that the UFCW had been involved in the boycott until she was told so Tuesday by a reporter calling about Republican Tom Horne’s demand that she renounce the union’s support.
The issue of the attorney general’s race isn’t the immigration law but the broader concern of border security, said Rotellini, an ex-prosecutor and former financial regular.
Associated Press writer Jacques Billeaud contributed.