Gov. Jan Brewer (R) made her future electoral plans official yesterday, telling the public she will not run for re-election. There was something curious, however, about the governor’s announcement.
The Arizona Republican – who has been at the center of heated debates on guns, immigration, health care and, most recently, gay rights – announced on Wednesday that she will not seek a third term as state executive.“There’s a time to be, and a time to go,” she said in an exclusive interview with Capitol Media Services. “It’s the right time for me to move on.”
That’s a perfectly nice sentiment, but it left out a relevant detail: she doesn’t have a choice.
Brewer made it sound yesterday like she’d made an important decision, but the fact remains that it wasn’t her decision to make – the Arizona Constitution made it for her. State law limits governors to two terms, including “any part” of one term. Brewer became governor in early 2009, succeeding Janet Napolitano, and serving the final two years of Napolitano’s term. Then she won a full term of her own. One and one is two. The end.
“The constitution is quite clear,” Paul Bender, Arizona State University law professor, said in December. “She cannot run again, and I don’t think there is any real significant doubt about it.”
In other words, Brewer announcing yesterday that she’d forgo a third term is effectively the same thing as President Obama announcing he won’t seek a third term, either. It’s not wrong, per se, so much as it’s odd to hear an elected official declare her intention to follow constitutional law, as if it were somehow optional.
As for her successor, Arizona is likely to be home to one of the nation’s more interesting gubernatorial races this year. It’s a generally considered a “red” state, but looking back over the last 30 years, Arizona has had seven governors – four Republicans and three Democrats.
In 2014, state Democrats appear to have already rallied behind Fred DuVal, a businessman and former member of Arizona’s Board of Regents, which oversees state universities. It will be his first bid for elected office.
Republicans, meanwhile, are looking at a bruising primary process.
The three top contenders are state Treasurer and former Cold Stone Creamery CEO Doug Ducey, Secretary of State Ken Bennett, and Mesa Mayor Scott Smith. Also on the list are GoDaddy executive Christine Jones, former California Rep. Frank Riggs, former Maricopa County attorney Andrew Thomas, former state’s Medicaid program director John Molina, and state Sen. Al Melvin.
The primary isn’t until Aug. 26 – it’s one of the nation’s latest primary dates – giving GOP gubernatorial hopefuls quite a bit of time to beat each other up before transitioning to a 10-week general-election process.
There hasn’t been much polling yet, but some early evidence suggests a wide-open contest with no clear favorite.