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As Arizona Gubernatorial Primary Heats Up, All Eyes on Immigration Bill

All eyes are on Arizona Governor Jan Brewer (R) as she decides to sign or veto Senate bill 1070. Her position on this bill could determine her re-election this year as she takes on three serious primary challengers from the right in a race that appears likely to focus on the immigration issue.

The Arizona Republic reports:

The governor has been mum on whether she will sign the measure. Her advisers say she worries about the impact of this action, and she generally seeks counsel from her close circle of friends and advisers when faced with significant decisions. At day’s end, they say, she’s not afraid to make an unpopular choice in an important matter.

“She agonizes over these things,” said Doug Cole, Brewer’s campaign spokesman.

Brewer spokesman Paul Senseman said she would consider legalities, residents’ sentiment and the impacts on the state, law enforcement and businesses, among other things, in making her decision.

As of Monday, the Governor’s Office had received 1,356 calls, e-mails and faxes in favor of SB 1070 and 11,931 against the bill….

Somos Republicans, a grass-roots group working to register more Latino Republicans, sent an e-mail to Brewer on Monday, telling her that if she supports the bill, they will request that she “leave the Republican Party.”

But despite passionate opposition on the left and among civil rights groups, there’s a huge push on the right asking the governor to sign the bill. In March, a poll showed that 60 percent of Arizona voters were “very concerned” about drug-related violence in Mexico spilling over into the United States. Voters seemed split about what the greater concern was: 45 percent of voters said illegal immigration and 43 percent said drug violence. Of the poll respondents, only seven percent of Arizona voters viewed Brewer very “favorably,” while 24 percent viewed the governor “very unfavorably.” Only 41 percent approved of the Brewer’s performance as governor.

Brewer was leading the primary with 26 percent in a mid-April poll, according to Politics Daily. She was followed by businessman Owen “Buz” Mills (18 percent), former state GOP chairman John Munger (14 percent) and State Treasurer Dean Martin (12 percent). But since much of the rhetoric on the Senate floor Monday was about the negative effects of illegal immigration, including crime and drug violence, if Brewer decided to veto the bill, she could see those numbers turn against her.

According to a new poll, Democratic Attorney General Terry Goddard is trailing behind all leading Republicans. But he’s received support from Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox and several Latino organizations, and he’s come out against SB 1070 — despite the fact that he’s also expressed interest in strengthening federal immigration laws. Goddard said the bill “does nothing to improve border security or address the core issues of illegal immigration” and that it would “take law enforcement resources away from stopping more serious crimes.” That might help with the Latino vote, but 70 percent of Arizona voters still say they favor legislation that authorizes local law enforcement to ask anyone they suspect of being an illegal immigrant about their legal status.

Signing Senate bill 1070 could help Brewer beat her Republican opponents – two of whom explicitly support the bill — in August during the Arizona primary. After all, Brewer spokesman Paul Senseman said calls, emails and letters were running 3-1 in favor of the bill. Brewer has until Saturday to sign or veto the bill, which was passed by the state Senate Monday.

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