Tonight’s debate between Gov. Jan Brewer and Attorney General Terry Goddard is probably the last time you will see the pair in the same room, much less on the same stage, between now and Election Day. And this one is only happening because both candidates are legally bound to appear because they took public campaign money.
The focus for Goddard will be economic: Arizona’s unemployment sits at 9.6 percent, where it’s been since May, and there are no clear signs of recoveries in either the state’s job market or economy.
Brewer, meanwhile, will do her best to keep voters’ attention on immigration issues. Until she signed SB1070 in April, Brewer was seen by some as an underdog within her own party’s primary, much less against Goddard. But with her popularity still riding high from the public’s approval of the controversial immigration measure, the governor will go back to that well over and over.
There was no clearer example of her campaign’s desire to keep people talking about immigration than yesterday’s PR blitz attack from Brewer and other GOP statewide and Congressional candidates.
In a coordinated move, nearly all of the campaigns issued press releases blasting their Democratic opponents for accepting money and support from the “boycott cartel,” the term they coined for the Service Employees International Union and United Food and Commercial Workers union.
The timing of the attack was carefully chose as well: By raising the issue yesterday, Brewer’s campaign guaranteed coverage in today’s daily papers and made it a near certainty that debate moderator and “Horizon” host Ted Simons asks about it tonight.
At the end of the day, though, the debate may not have much impact on the outcome of the election. As I told Kirk Yuhnke on ABC 15 Daybreak this morning, Brewer has such a substantial lead over Goddard that how either perform may not really matter.
A poll from Rasmussen Reports released on Monday showed Brewer with a commanding 57-38 lead over her challenger, with barely two months before the Nov. 2 election and scarcely a month before early ballots go out.
Goddard has a Herculean task ahead of him if he is to both win the undecided voters and persuade a sizable portion of those supporting Brewer to instead choose him.
- Jim Small