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UpClose with Russell Pearce: Recognizes he’s not ‘a party of one,’ can’t do whatever he wants

If you’re looking for proof of how much more conservative the Senate emerged after last year’s election, look no further than the selection of Sen. Russell Pearce, a Republican from Mesa, as the chamber’s leader.

Pearce is often perceived as unmovable, uncompromising, even single-minded — traits that may be good or bad, depending on which side of the aisle you’re sitting. Many wondered what his presidency would look like and some speculated whether he would rule with a hammer.

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UpClose with Gov. Jan Brewer: Touts openness, says vetoes represent decision not to ‘blow a hole’ in budget (access required)

After two chaotic legislative sessions, things settled down a bit for Gov. Jan Brewer in 2011.

Having won an overwhelming voter mandate in November, Brewer no longer was the governor who simply inherited the job. And with her hard-fought battle for a sales tax increase won, she was no longer the Republican governor who spent most of her time feuding with her own party.

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Distractions? Yes. Distracted? Probably not too much

Every circus has its sideshows. And this year, the state Capitol was crawling with them. 

For the first time in more than a decade, lawmakers wrapped up their work in 100 days. And they did so in spite of distractions that came in the form of a roadside fracas that cost a Republican leader his post, a college football scandal that ensnared more than a dozen elected officials and a tragic shooting days before the session began that cast a pall over the entire process.

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Biggs, as Senate majority leader, less vocal in opposing bills (access required)

On several occasions, the Senate majority leader voted with the losing side — and against the majority in his caucus.

Those occasions are a stark reminder that the man Republicans picked as caucus leader is a fiscal conservative with a libertarian streak, who backs or supports measures depending on how they hew to or diverge from his reading of the U.S. Constitution.

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