Media outlets called the race for Brewer around 9 p.m., and Goddard conceded within the hour. By the end of the night, Brewer led by nearly 180,000 votes.
The win caps a tumultuous two years for Brewer, who inherited the job when former Gov. Janet Napolitano resigned in January 2009 to join President Obama’s cabinet. By the end of her first six months, which was characterized by constant battles with her own party over the state budget and a sales tax increase, some political insiders wondered if she would even run for a full term.
But Brewer’s popularity shot through the roof after she signed SB1070, Arizona’s controversial but popular illegal immigration law, in April, and voters finally approved her proposed sales tax hike in May.
Brewer said she was thrilled that Arizona voters had enough faith and trust in her to elect her to a full term.
“I think that it says that the voters, they know who Jan Brewer is and that she has shown leadership and that she’s got a plan, and that together we’re going to continue with Arizona’s comeback,” Brewer told the Arizona Capitol Times.
Goddard, who ran for governor in 1990 and 1994, told supporters that he was disappointed that his message of bringing jobs back to Arizona and restoring the state’s schools didn’t resonate with voters.
“We can never recover economically when our schools are last in the nation. There, too, I have been clear about the course we should take,” Goddard said in a concession statement. “Although we did not prevail tonight, I am confident Arizona will embrace this vision someday soon, if we keep the faith and build on what we have done together.”
Pollster Bruce Merrill said Brewer suffered from low name ID before she signed SB1070, but her recognition and popularity exploded afterwards.
She has made the rounds on national television and been at the forefront of the national immigration debate, even after a federal judge temporarily halted key provisions of the law. Brewer was in attendance at the oral arguments at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Nov. 1, a move that Goddard said was a publicity stunt.
Brewer said her defense of SB1070 showed voters that she was willing to fight for Arizona, and that her push for Proposition 100, the temporary one-cent sales tax that voters approved in May, showed them that she was willing to fight for what she believed, even if it was difficult.
“They overwhelmingly supported me (on Prop. 100). And I think at that point in time that people saw me as a leader and I was willing to make tough decisions and do what was right,” Brewer said. “Senate Bill 1070 is a piece of what people saw Jan Brewer as. They saw me as a fighter for the people of Arizona and probably for America, according to the letters and the emails. I signed it and I’ve defended it, and I think they appreciated my defense of it.”
-Arizona Capitol Times reporter Gary Grado contributed to this story.
Brewer’s acceptance speech
Goddard discusses what led to his ultimate loss, and what’s next for him