Brewer leads charge against feds in Ari­zona

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY STEPHEN DI­NAN

PHOENIX | Be­fore there was Scott Walker, Rick Scott, Nathan Deal or Nikki Ha­ley, there was Ari­zona’s Jan Brewer, the orig­i­nal Repub­li­can protest gov­er­nor, go­ing toe-to-toe with the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion over im­mi­gra­tion, fight­ing the White House in the court­room and be­com­ing an early sym­bol of states’ frus­tra­tion with the White House.

Now five months into her first elected term, Ari­zona’s top politi­cian is once again chal­leng­ing Pres­i­dent Obama. This time, she is ask­ing him not only to keep the Na­tional Guard on the bor­der past its sched­uled de­par­ture in June, but to boost its num­bers to pro­vide more se­cu­rity.

“I think the Na­tional Guard should be there un­til ev­ery­thing is re­solved and we have a se­cure bor­der, which means prob­a­bly hav­ing the Na­tional Guard down there, you know, and prob­a­bly more than what he has put down there,” Mrs. Brewer told The Wash­ing­ton Times in a broad in­ter­view in her Phoenix of­fice, just af­ter the state’s leg­isla­tive session ended late last month.

Over­all, there is a re­newed fo­cus on states as key ac­tors in the Amer­i­can sys­tem of gov­ern­ment, as they con­front bud­get crises and try to man­age their parts of the so­cial safety net, all while try­ing to live up to Jus­tice Louis Bran­deis’ vi­sion of them as lab­o­ra­to­ries of democ­racy.

Fu­eled by tea party power, fresh­man gov­er­nors also have clashed with the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion over is­sues in­clud­ing col­lec­tive-bar­gain­ing rights for pub­lic em­ploy­ees and man­dates for health care.

In the ab­stract, the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion should be open to states’ con­cerns, what with the Cabi­net in­clud­ing sev­eral for­mer gov­er­nors — Ari­zona’s Janet A. Napoli­tano at Home­land Se­cu­rity, Kansas’ Kath­leen Se­be­lius at HHS, Wash­ing­ton’s Gary F. Locke at Com­merce and Iowa’s Thomas J. Vil­sack at Agri­cul­ture.

But Mrs. Brewer, a chief pro­po­nent of what has been termed “New Fed­er­al­ism,” said it has turned out to be any­thing but.

“You feel like you’re be­ing snubbed. You feel like they don’t want to be a part­ner,” she said, adding that when she took of­fice, she hoped to make work­ing with the fed­eral gov­ern­ment a legacy of her ten­ure. “I was re­buked. It was like a push­back, and it’s hard to deal with be­cause what can you do? You write let­ters, you write let­ters, you write let­ters, and you get no an­swers, you get no an­swers.”

She said she even raised the gov­er­nor-snub­bing is­sue with Mr. Obama in their Oval Of­fice meet­ing last year, amid the furor over the state’s tough im­mi­gra­tion law, which Mrs. Brewer signed April 23, 2010. She said the pres­i­dent said he wasn’t aware of the is­sue.

“He apol­o­gized,” she said. “He said that would never hap­pen again.”

Late last month, how­ever, Mr. Obama called a high-pow­ered im­mi­gra­tion meet­ing at the White House, invit­ing for­mer Cal­i­for­nia Gov. Arnold Sch­warzeneg­ger, New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and oth- ers, but no Ari­zona of­fi­cials.

“That in it­self is bizarre,” Mrs. Brewer said. “An im­mi­gra­tion sum­mit and not ask­ing some­one at least from Ari­zona, I would have as­sumed it would be the gov­er­nor.”

In Ari­zona, Mrs. Brewer’s push for state au­ton­omy plays well, and state Demo­cratic Party Chair­man An­drei Ch­erny said he doesn’t fault her for as­sert­ing state pre­rog­a­tives, but rather for the way she has gone about it.

“I agree that a state like Ari­zona should be able to make many de­ci­sions for it­self. The is­sue is not whether she picked a fight with the fed­eral gov­ern- ment for po­lit­i­cal ben­e­fit, but whether she pro­duced any re­sults for the peo­ple of Ari­zona,” Mr. Ch­erny said.

“These ef­forts wasted pre­cious time cre­at­ing me­dia shows and never-end­ing law­suits - time she could have de­voted to con­fronting the jobs cri­sis in Ari­zona or work­ing on real so­lu­tions to deal with il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion,” he said.

Mrs. Brewer has been in Ari­zona pol­i­tics for decades, hav­ing served in the state House and Se­nate and as a mem­ber of the Mari­copa County Board of Su­per­vi­sors. In 2002 she was elected sec­re­tary of state, and

In a lit­tle more than two years in of­fice, she has signed tem­po­rary tax in­creases to try to close a bud­get short­fall and has faced key tests on ed­u­ca­tion and gun rights. But there is lit­tle doubt that the im­mi­gra­tion is­sue has dom­i­nated her time in of­fice. A year ago, she be­came the face of an­tiWash­ing­ton sen­ti­ment when she signed the tough­est state im­mi­gra­tion-crack­down leg­is­la­tion in the coun­try, and then went to court to de­fend it against the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion.

be­came gov­er­nor in Jan­uary 2009 when Ms. Napoli­tano, who was the state’s chief ex­ec­u­tive, be­came Mr. Obama’s Home­land Se­cu­rity sec­re­tary.

In a lit­tle more than two years in of­fice, she has signed tem­po­rary tax in­creases to try to close a bud­get short­fall and has faced key tests on ed­u­ca­tion and gun rights.

But there is lit­tle doubt that the im­mi­gra­tion is­sue has dom­i­nated her time in of­fice. A year ago, she be­came the face of an­tiWash­ing­ton sen­ti­ment when she signed the tough­est state im­mi­gra­tion-crack­down leg­is­la­tion in the coun­try, and then went to court to de­fend it against the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion.

At the time she signed the bill, she was run­ning for re-elec­tion and trailed Terry God­dard, who was at­tor­ney gen­eral, through much of spring 2010. But al­most im­me­di­ately af­ter she signed the bill, polling swung in her direc­tion and she cruised to a 12-per­cent­age-point vic­tory over Mr. God­dard.

In legal chal­lenges to the law, a fed­eral district court and then an ap­peals court ruled in fa­vor of the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion and halted the key en­force­ment pro­vi­sions. Mrs. Brewer is pon­der­ing whether to go straight to the Supreme Court or to ask the full 9th U.S. Cir­cuit Court of Ap­peals to hear the case.

Al­most ex­actly a year af­ter she signed the im­mi­gra­tion bill into law, Mrs. Brewer was in spot­light over an­other set of con­ser­va­tive mea­sures that the state Leg­is­la­ture sent her.

This time, the gov­er­nor dis­ap­pointed her con­ser­va­tive back­ers and won grudg­ing praise from Democrats af­ter she ve­toed three of the bills.

One would have al­lowed guns to be car­ried on pub­lic rights of way at state col­leges, an­other would have re­quired pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates to pro­duce their birth cer­tifi­cates to get on the state’s bal­lot and a third would have per­mit­ted the state to join an in­ter­state com­pact de­signed to cir­cum­vent Mr. Obama’s health care law.

The bill re­gard­ing birth cer­tifi­cates gar­nered the most at­ten­tion. Mrs. Brewer said she did not trust putting so much bal­lotac­cess con­trol in the hands of one per­son, the sec­re­tary of state, and she doubted the mea­sure would clear a Jus­tice Depart­ment re­view un­der At­tor­ney Gen­eral Eric H. Holder Jr., to whom Ari­zona is re­quired to sub­mit un­der the Vot­ing Rights Act.

“I know how they work, and I know who’s in charge of the Depart­ment of Jus­tice, and I can­not imag­ine Holder ever ap­prov­ing of that piece of leg­is­la­tion. So bot­tom line, it wouldn’t have went any­where any­way,” she said.

Some Ari­zona pun­dits ar­gue that Mrs. Brewer is test­ing her post­elec­tion free­dom and re­turn­ing to more mod­er­ate Repub­li­can roots, with which they say she is more com­fort­able. They say she is free to do so since she is term-lim­ited and can­not run again in 2014.

But she dis­missed talk of a left­ward turn.

“Oh, ab­so­lutely not. I’ve been a con­ser­va­tive my whole life, but I al­ways do, again, vote and take ev­ery­thing into con­sid­er­a­tion, and then I do what I be­lieve is the right thing to do,” she said.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

BRAWLER BREWER: Ari­zona Gov. Jan Brewer drew na­tional at­ten­tion last year when she cham­pi­oned the state’s tough new im­mi­gra­tion law.

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