Gov. Jan Brewer certainly got off to a rough start in the televised debate with Attorney General Terry Goddard, and while she recovered her voice, Brewer slaughters the English language in way reminiscent of former President George W. Bush. Leadership does not require the most stellar professional speaking manner, so I’ll give Brewer a pass on that awkward brain-lock and homespun dialect.
I’m hard-pressed to declare a debate winner between Goddard and Brewer in the one and only debate to occur. There were two other guys there too, a Libertarian and a Green Party candidate. They both held up their very limited role in the debate, but the reality is that neither can win. Independents who support these two unlikely winners in November might become the spoilers who take votes away from the Republican candidate if her poll numbers drop.
Brewer leads in the polls, but her refusal to debate Goddard again is going to cut that lead. The attack campaigns are underway and a lead in the polls can change radically in the two months to go before the election. Right now, this race is Goddard’s to win and Brewer’s to lose—and she could lose if she won’t debate.
Several people who watched the debate tell me they believe Brewer acquitted herself well in the end and that Goddard acted like a bully and constantly interrupted. I agree that Brewer recovered, but all she did was challenge Goddard for having no plan and attacked his union boycott supporters. She’s feisty alright, but we already knew that and Goddard was graceful under fire while sticking to a very few talking points.
SB 1070 made Brewer famous, but border security and illegal immigration are not the only issues confronting Arizona. Looking at Goddard and Brewer’s websites reveals that neither of the candidates has proposed workable solutions to the state’s other problems.
Buz Mills campaigned on deficit reduction, lower taxes and drawing business and jobs into the state before he dropped out of the race. The spotlight was on SB 1070 only and Mills could not get his audience to hear his economic message. Brewer stole the limelight with the ludicrous beheadings claim she only today admitted was wrong … or misinterpreted, but border violence is increasing and dangerous foreigners are occupying paths through our country.
We know Brewer won’t back down on border and immigration issues, but we also know that her solution to the $24 billion state deficit was a tax increase passed by a small percentage of the electorate. We do not know her ideas and plans to get the state’s economy going again. Arizonans know a lot about Terry Goddard. This is his third run for governor in 30 years in public office. Goddard’s economic proposals are equally enigmatic and immigration enforcement is not a priority to him.
Brewer’s refusal to debate Goddard again deprives voters of the opportunity to scrutinize the candidates. Instead of moderated civil discourse on specifics, we will be on the receiving end of personal attacks and smear campaigns, hints of shady associations, shadowy backers and financial gains. It’s going to get ugly.
The more Brewer refuses to debate Goddard, the more I miss Buz Mills.