Misstatement or not, Republican gubernatorial hopeful Buz Mills left some questioning his anti-illegal immigration credentials when he spoke out against Arizona’s employer sanctions law at a recent candidate forum.
“I’m not your guy for employer sanctions. If you want employer sanctions you’ve got to go somewhere else,” Mills said during a candidate forum at the Arizona Farm Bureau on April 8. “That is a failure on the part of the feds that has made you the policeman. We need a different system.”
Campaign manager Camilla Strongin said Mills made a “misstatement” and that he does support the anti-illegal hiring law. She said he didn’t tailor his remarks to fit the crowd at the Arizona Farm Bureau, which opposed the employer sanctions law itself.
“If you spent as many days giving speeches (as Mills does), unfortunately you sometimes get your words mixed up,” Strongin said.
Mills endorsed S1070 shortly after it was passed by the Legislature. Nonetheless, with the landmark bill pushing illegal immigration to center stage at the Capitol, some GOP faithful are asking questions. Mills’ opposition sounded vehement, and he appeared to be reading his answers as he spoke. Conservative blog Sonoran Alliance called him out on the “misstatement,” and accused him of “kissing up” to the farm bureau.
After more than a year of other GOP candidates attacking her from the right, incumbent Gov. Jan Brewer may have some conservative ammunition against Mills, who’s made a strong showing in recent polls. Brewer signed S1070 on April 23, likely scoring some points with a Republican base that is largely hostile over her push for a temporary sales tax increase.
And in a primary where everyone is trying to be the most conservative, Brewer probably won’t be the only one taking shots over at Mills over his remarks. State Treasurer Dean Martin and former Arizona Republican Party Chairman John Munger have been vocal supporters of S1070 as well, and may eager to paint Mills as soft on illegal immigration.
- Jeremy Duda