The governor continues her legal battle against DREAMers, school funding
Brewer: See You In Court
Gov. Jan Brewer had two big court decisions go against her in recent weeks—but the litigation-happy gov is ready to keep fighting in court rather than comply with court orders.
The first decision came from a three-judge panel at the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, which issued an injunction blocking Brewer's executive order that denied driver's licenses to young undocumented immigrants who were in the Obama administration's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA.
The program allows the so-called DREAMers—young people who were brought to the U.S. by their parents—to avoid prosecution and deportation if they register with the federal government.
After President Barack Obama announced the program in 2012, Brewer issued an executive order saying that she would not allow DACA registrants to get Arizona driver's licenses. A coalition of groups filed suit and, after a legal battle, the Ninth Circuit ruled that Brewer's action was driven by animus toward a select group of people and thus, likely violated the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution. While the case is still being tried in federal court, the appeals court said the kids would be eligible for driver's licenses.
Last week, Brewer announced she would appeal the decision to issue the injunction. As the Weekly reported a few weeks ago, the Republicans who wish to take Brewer's place next year are in general agreement with her policy, but the sole Democrat in the governor's race, Fred DuVal, condemned Brewer's decision to appeal the ruling and said his first action as governor would be to rescind the executive order.
"When will Jan Brewer stop fighting DREAMers?" DuVal asked in a press release last week. "Her callous ban on driver's licenses for DREAMers has already been thrown out, but she continues to do everything in her power to make it difficult for them to succeed."
DuVal added that "DREAMers are smart, talented, and driven young people, who have only known America as home. They just want the opportunity to contribute to their communities. I've been traveling around Arizona talking with CEO's and small business owners and none of them understand why Jan Brewer is still pursuing this wrongheaded policy."
Brewer also said she'd appeal a Maricopa County Superior Court decision that required that state to increase state funding for education to adjust for inflation.
State courts have ruled that the Arizona Legislature ignored state law requiring inflationary adjustments to education funding and earlier this month, a Maricopa County Superior Court judge said the state needed to provide an additional $317 million for education funding this year.
State Rep. Bruce Wheeler (D-Tucson) was among those who asked Brewer to call a special session to deal with the funding issue.
Wheeler said he was delighted with the court's ruling that education funding should be boosted.
"Courts are supposed to interpret the law correctly and in this case they did," Wheeler said. "The Legislature acted extremely irresponsibly, ignoring the direction of the people and the law when they decided to do this."
The courts are still considering whether to force the state to supply back payments for the years in which education funding was not increased. The cost of that could top a billion dollars.
What are voters thinking in the GOP gubernatorial primary?
A Tale of Two Polls
Two recent polls have different pictures of the six-way GOP gubernatorial race, which features Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett, Arizona Treasurer Doug Ducey, attorney Christine Jones, former Mesa mayor Scott Smith, former California congressman Frank Riggs and disgraced former Maricopa County attorney Andrew Thomas.
One survey, released on Monday, July 14, by political consultant Chuck Coughlin's HighGround organization, shows that 45 percent of primary voters were undecided. Among those primary voters who had made up their minds: 17 percent supported Ducey, 15 percent supported Jones, 10 percent supported Smith, 4 percent supported Bennett, 3 percent supported Thomas and 2 percent supported Riggs.
"We believe the results show that the Republican primary is a wide open race between the top three candidates—Ducey, Jones and Smith," said Highground's Paul Bentz.
The poll surveyed 400 likely Republican primary voters between July 10-12 and had a margin of error of 4.9 percent.
Meanwhile, Veterans for a Strong America, a dark-money group that has targeted Jones with negative campaign ads, released a survey showing that just 22 percent of voters were undecided.
The VSA poll showed Ducey with 33 percent of the voters; Jones with 21 percent; Smith with 13 percent; Bennett with 12 percent; Thomas with 7 percent; and Riggs with 1 percent.
The VSA poll news release did not include any details about methodology, but the group has ties to Sean Noble, an Arizona political operative and dark-money champion who is supporting Ducey.
Ducey Lands Hull; Riggs Lands Nugent
Some new endorsements in the gubernatorial race: State Treasurer Doug Ducey has landed former governor Jane Dee Hull, who served from 1997 to 2002.
"As a former Arizona governor, I know what it takes to lead this great state," Hull said in a prepared statement. "Doug Ducey's experience in the private sector, his leadership in defeating Prop 204 and his love for this state shows that he, too, has what it takes to be this state's next governor."
Meanwhile, former California congressman Frank Riggs got the seal of approval from none other than the Motor City Madman himself, Ted Nugent.
"Arizona is surely one of the best states for quality of life and freedom ... and in these crazy Obama times, Arizona must not just hold the line, she must push back hard," Nugent said in press release announcing the endorsement. "Frank Riggs is the right guy to do it."
Riggs said he was honored by the endorsement.
"Ted is a principled and unabashed conservative and a true warrior in defense of our constitutional freedoms, including the Second Amendment," Riggs said. "Like Ted, I am unwavering in my belief that our U.S. Constitution is the law of the land, and provides us with our individual liberties and state sovereignty."
Nugent is certainly a supporter of the Second Amendment. In 2007, according to a Rolling Stone report, Nugent appeared onstage in camo hunting gear and waved two machine guns around while declaring: "Obama, he's a piece of shit. I told him to suck on my machine gun. Hey Hillary, you might want to ride one of these into the sunset, you worthless bitch."
That's what we call responsible gun ownership.
Riggs has also been endorsed by former state lawmaker Russell Pearce, the architect of Arizona's notorious SB 1070 and the only Senate president in U.S. history to ever be recalled by the voters of his district. Pearce lost a bid to reclaim his seat in 2012.
Riggs unveiled his first TV ad of the campaign season last week as well, making the unorthodox decision to appear topless and pumping iron. The message: Being governor "is a tough job, and I'm just the guy to do it."