Gov. Jan Brewer confirmed that she and the legislative members of her pro-Medicaid expansion coalition crafted a plan to oust Senate President Andy Biggs and House Speaker Andy Tobin from their leadership positions when lawmakers went into special session.
But she said the action was never taken because the two Republican leaders “did the smart thing” and did not try to stop the bipartisan coalition from bringing the budget up for a vote.
Speaking to reporters shortly after the Senate gave final approve to her budget package, Brewer said the threat encouraged Biggs and Tobin to allow the bills to move through special session without delay.
“We did (discuss removing the leaders),” Brewer said. “I think that we were prepared to have (coalition members) go back and speak to them and tell them that this was what was going to happen, and that we had our numbers.”
“They weren’t rolled. They kept their elected positions as speaker and as president. I think they very possibly could have been rolled by the majority of the members,” Brewer said.
“I don’t think anybody wanted to see that happen. But when they realized that we had the numbers and we were ready to go and do the people’s work, that they did the smart thing, as any leader would do, (and) do their job and preside over their respectful houses and do the process… that is supposed to take place over there.”
When Brewer called a surprise special session on Tuesday evening, rumors ran rampant through the Capitol that the coalition of legislative Democrats and pro-expansion Republicans would oust Biggs and Tobin, potentially replacing them with Sen. Steve Pierce and Rep. Frank Pratt. Some lawmakers suggested that the ouster would only be temporary during the special session.
Tobin even said he was prepared to step aside if need be.
But the rumored coup never came to pass in either chamber. Rep. Bob Robson, a member of Brewer’s coalition, indicated that the potential ouster was a contingency plan that would only be used if Biggs and Tobin obstructed the special session.
“There’s no intent to do any of that unless procedurally things don’t happen,” Robson, R-Chandler, said after the House adjourned on Tuesday night.