As his campaign ads state, Arizona Republican gubernatorial candidate Buz Mills is a businessman, not a politician. It gives the man great appeal to voters who see a change from politics-as-usual as necessary to stop the Copper State from following California and New York over the brink into financial and social bankruptcy.
Mills has a tough fight ahead to unseat incumbent Jan Brewer in the August 24 primary. Brewer is riding a wave of popularity following passage of the state’s controversial, but nationally popular immigration enforcement law. The challenger is a relative unknown by comparison.
Mills sees too many Republicans in office who “are just another kind of Democrat.” They may not be exactly tax-and-spend liberals, but there are “borrow-and-spend” office holders who have failed to rein in a growing state deficit, government spending and new taxes.
Mills entered the race after looking at the candidates in the last election cycle and saw that they were “the same people who got us into this mess.” Brewer is an veteran politician whose career began while President Barack Obama was smoking dope and snorting cocaine. Mills is a Marine Corps veteran and self-made millionaire in the telecommunications business.
Brewer orchestrated the recent passage of Prop 100, a one-cent sales tax increase passed via a special, single issue ballot that attracted a mere 34 percent of the state’s registered voters. The tax is expected to add $1 billion per year and terminate after three years. Nothing in the tax hike prohibits the state legislature from extending the tax, or making it permanent down the road. It’s a tax increase by a traditionally fiscal conservative governor. It guarantees the state will take more money from its residents while offering no assurances that government spending will not increase with the new revenue stream.
Mills promises to “make the hard decisions” that will cut spending, balance the budget and reduce taxes. “Budget, border and jobs sums up my campaign in three words,” said Mills, addressing the Northwest Republicans Chapter in Oro Valley Thursday evening. “The government doesn’t create jobs, the private sector does.”
Both candidates are strong Second Amendment supporters. Brewer signed the concealed carry law that eliminates acquiring basic firearms training and state permit for Arizona residents. Mills owns Gunsite Academy, an enterprise that has trained thousands of law enforcement officers, members of the military and civilians to be better, safer shooters. “I train gunfighters,” Mills said. He is a member of the National Rifle Association’s board.
Mills would freeze state spending and hiring, and make Arizona “the Gold Standard” of the nation for attracting private business through tax cuts and incentives that create private sector jobs. A stable state economy attracts business, but business won’t come to a state that sees higher taxes as the political solution to balancing and out of control budget.
“The opportunity is there,” Mills said. “The only thing Arizona doesn’t have is leadership.”
He criticized Brewer for failing to secure the border, turning instead to the federal government, claiming the state has no money to do so. Mills said the state lacks money because of spending mandates imposed by Washington and our own legislature. Mills wants spending mandates put before the voters because “voters know you can’t spend more money than you bring in.”
Since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Arizona’s Clean Elections law, the one that gives taxpayer dollars to candidates who decline private donations, Brewer is looking for a way to get campaign dollars from empty state coffers. Mills called the court’s ruling a “tremendous victory for the First Amendment.”
A proponent of tort reform, Mills would like to see a loser pays system to unload the court dockets of frivolous lawsuits and reduced costs added to health care by lawsuits. On water, he supports conservation and searching for new sources of water, possibly desalinization. He wants to see more education funding in the classroom and less in administration and contract out school districts’ food and janitorial services. He will station armed troops to secure the border.
“We can be a debtor state,” Mills said, “or we can stand up and take the bull by the horns. That is what I intend to do.”