5/6/2014 2:24:00 PM Governor on campaign trail for like-minded candidates
Gov. Jan Brewer is hoping to use her popularity -- and some of her PAC dollars -- to campaign for candidates across the country who, she believes, share her philosophy. (Capitol Media Services file photo by Howard Fischer)
Howard Fischer Capitol Media Services
PHOENIX -- With the regular legislative session behind her, Gov. Jan Brewer is on the road again in her bid to elect candidates across the nation who share her views.
Brewer just returned from Georgia where she helped raise money for U.S. Senate hopeful Karen Handel. And Friday she was in Colorado to aid Cynthia Coffman in her bid for state attorney general.
And that's just the beginning. In an extensive interview with Capitol Media Services, Brewer said the requests for her to help Republicans across the country come in faster than she can respond. But now, with more time available -- with the exception of a special legislative session later this month -- Brewer said she intends to help.
"I'm going to participate in any manner I can to help those candidates that I believe that are aligned with me philosophically, and that they are pragmatic and that they will get the job done,' Brewer said.
That's only part of the agenda. The governor also hopes to use the time to replenish the coffers of Jan PAC, her political action committee which allows her to spend money independently on behalf of candidates for federal office.
Brewer managed to raise just $2,670 in the first three months of the year, a result she attributes to being tied to Phoenix during the legislative session. Yet the PAC spent more than $47,600, mostly paid to the consultants who are in charge of raising money.
That, however, hardly leaves her broke, with the governor herself proclaiming that "$300,000 is nothing to sneeze at.'
And Brewer has one other political chore on the horizon: Deciding who, if any, of the Republican contenders she will back who want to replace her.
"I know them all,' she said. "They're all good friends.'
But the governor said her decision likely comes down to who most agrees with her and the things she has done -- and promises to keep fiscal those policies in place.
"I certainly am concerned about my legacy,' she explained.
"I don't want my legacy to be that they get in there, they don't follow through with the plans we've laid out -- and then get blamed for Arizona blowing up,' Brewer continued. "I am concerned about that.'
But that's only a piece of it.
Brewer wants continued support for her decision to expand the state's Medicaid program even if it does depend on funding from the Affordable Care Act. That federal program has become a lightning rod for GOP opposition.
Equally controversial has been Brewer's decision to have Arizona adopt the Common Core standards, crafted by the National Governors Association to spell out what students should know at various points in their education.
Several Republican contenders have called them federally imposed standards, saying they want to repeal them. And that concerns Brewer.
"They don't even understand what Common Core is,' she said. "They don't even know where it started from,' Brewer continued, saying some think of it as "a big boogey man hiding in a cookie jar.'
Those two issues could tilt the balance in favor of former Mesa Mayor Scott Smith.
"Scott has been very supportive of my policies, it's true,' she conceded in response to a question. "But I haven't made up my mind.'
And, of course, Brewer said, whoever she chooses to back has to be "somebody that will beat the Democrat,' choosing not to even acknowledge Fred DuVal, the presumptive front runner, by name.
In the interim, she is looking beyond Arizona's borders for candidates to support.
Her backing of Handel may already have helped.
Prior to Brewer's fund-raiser at a Canton, Ga. fund-raiser, Handel was running third. But a new survey released Thursday showed her just a percentage point behind frontrunner David Perdue.
Brewer said she opted to get involved in a GOP primary battle because she has known Handel since both were elected secretaries of state.
"She agrees with me philosophically,' the governor said. "And she's a reasonable, pragmatic candidate.'
But Handel may actually be more to the right of Brewer on the issue of gun rights.
Brewer last month vetoed legislation which would have allowed some gun owners -- those with permits to carry a concealed weapon -- to bring them in to public buildings that did not have armed guards and metal detectors at each public entrance.
Handel, however, supported Georgia's HB 60 which does pretty much the same thing for buildings without guards.
Brewer, however, minimized their differences on this issue, saying both believe in the Second Amendment right to bear arms. The governor said she vetoed the Arizona measure because she saw it as a mandate of sorts on local governments: If you want to keep guns out, you have to spend the money on guards and equipment.
"They wanted me to tell all the local governments to install all this equipment,' Brewer said. "Well, we know they don't have the money for that.'
Coffman, currently an assistant attorney general, is a bit of a different story.
"She is a person that I've met along the trail in my travels,' Brewer said, calling her "another pragmatic person running for office.' The governor also noted that Coffman's husband, Mike, is a Republican congressman from Colorado.