Republican Gov. Jan Brewer’s Re-Election Fueled by Tough Immigration Law, Spokesman Says

November 9, 2010 - 10:21 AM

Jan Brewer

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer went to the White House on Thursday, June 3, 2010, to discuss Arizona's strict new immigration law. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

(CNSNews.com) – It is “very clear” that Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer’s opposition to illegal immigration helped her win easy re-election last week, a spokesman from the governor’s office told CNSNews.com.

Brewer defeated Democrat Terry Goddard with 55 percent of the vote to his 42 percent.

Paul Senseman, a spokesman for Brewer, told CNSNews.com that Arizona’s tough new immigration law (SB 1017) was a factor in Brewer’s victory.

He specifically mentioned the “vocal opposition” that greeted passage of the bill earlier this year:

“There is no doubt that that kind of vocal opposition, including some demonstrations on the streets, helped motivate a lot of people who questioned, ‘What’s the problem with Arizona enforcing the rule of law?” Senseman said. He noted that the Arizona law mirrors federal law, prompting people to question why the federal government wouldn’t welcome Arizona’s assistance in enforcing immigration law.

“When the governor says, ‘I cannot tolerate the level of narco-terrorist activity, drug smuggling, human smuggling, and violence going on in my state on a daily basis, and if there’s not going to be action from the feds, I am going to take action myself,’ I think it certainly had an impact,” Senseman said.

Brewer signed SB 1070 on April 23. The law makes it a state crime to be in the country illegally. It allows police officers who make lawful stops to ask about a person's legal status “where reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States.”

In July, on the day before the law was set to take effect, a federal judge blocked key sections of the law, after the U.S.  Justice Department requested an injuction on the grounds that Arizona was “impermissibly” seeking to “regulate immigration by creating an Arizona-specific immigration policy that is expressly designed to rival or supplant that of the federal government.”

Arizona appealed the federal judge’s decision, presenting its arguments at a Nov. 1 hearing at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco. Brewer attended that hearing, which fell on the day before the midterm election.

Senseman told CNSNews.com, “The governor is hopeful that [the appeals court] will take into consideration both the current situation in our state and the position of the federal government, and that they will consider enacting the heart of what is 1070.”

He said it “seemed pretty clear” at the November court hearing that the federal government was “having a hard time answering” some of the judges’ questions.

Senseman told CNSNews.com that it remains to be seen whether Brewer will propose additional anti-illegal immigration measures during her upcoming term.

“Right now we are focused on being allowed by federal courts to implement and enforce the statute [SB 1070] that we’ve already passed,” said Senseman. “That’s the primary focus right now.”

He called it unfortunate that Arizona has “very scarce resources” and is unable “to spend additional funds and grow our law enforcement capabilities.” He also said Gov. Brewer looks forward to working on border security issues with the neighboring state of New Mexico, which just elected a conservative Republican as governor.

As CNSNews.com previously reported, New Mexico Governor-elect Susana Martinez took 54 percent of the vote after making her stance against illegal immigration one of the most visible parts of her campaign.

Martinez has not advocated an Arizona-type immigration law, but she does want to remove incentives – such as driver’s licenses and tuition programs – that encourage people to come into New Mexico illegally.