I haven't evaluated Governor Jan Brewer's performance until now. I like her and her record as a state senator and Maricopa County Supervisor. As Secretary of State, I questioned her position on the Pima County RTA election, but that's no deal breaker. If experience matters, she has plenty.
I waited to see which bills she'd sign. Those peripherally restricting abortion and expanding self-defense, none of which would have gotten by dogmatic liberal Janet Napolitano, had her support. That leaves the budget as the sticking point between her, GOP legislative leaders, and conservative voters.
They don't want a tax hike. She does, but it's on the right tax (sales), requires a vote of the public (unlikely to pass) and could be structured to sunset automatically. If the ballot choices also include repeal of the idiotic measure passed by voters a few years back that doesn't allow the legislature to change anything ever passed by the voters, many conservatives could at least support putting it on the ballot.
That measure was then Prop 105. Those defending it make the absurd assumption that the voters were so prescient when they passed certain initiatives that those measures should never be touched by representatives chosen by the same or newer voters who suddenly are dolts for making those other choices. It's irrational. Worse, it leaves billions in the state budget off limits, and forces cuts elsewhere.
Governor Brewer is aware of the problem but does not seem to frame it as part of her push for a higher sales tax. In a recent appearance before the Tucson Rotary Club, she mentioned "Prop 105" as part of her agenda but never explained it.
I'd like to ask her more about it, but this governor's real problem isn't the sales tax or even the inordinate amount of time she wastes talking to the education lobby and some others who would close a public school before they'd lay off one of its vice principals.
Her problem is lack of accessibility to folks she needs on her side.
I am not the only talk show host in town or in Arizona who cannot get her to make an appearance. While Tom Danehy and I are rather casual in our interviews of pols and have been known to renovate the pompous, we'd treat the governor - any governor - with respect at least the first time and throw her some beach balls. No deal. Her handlers are apparently scared to death to let her out alone.
Worse, she cannot meet one-on-one with legislators she needs to pass anything. Even key members of her own party find a staffer sitting between them in private meetings. She could try making book with the Democrats, but their budget plans are incoherent. They oppose raising sales taxes because they're "regressive." Next page they offer a list of items they want to add to that tax. Cognitive dissonance? Why is taxing my shampoo regressive, but taxing my haircut OK?
We don't know if she's running. Republicans need to. Democrats are focusing on Attorney General Terry Goddard and other viable candidates. Republicans have viable options, too. State Treasurer Dean Martin, recovering from the personal tragedy of losing his wife and child, may not be ready yet but is still on the board. Congressmen Trent Franks and Jeff Flake have both made subtle noises. Tucsonan and former GOP State Chair John Munger would be available. All of them do talk shows.
If there is any hope for Governor Brewer's staff to keep their jobs past 2010, I suggest they at least lengthen her leash.