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Debate? Arizona's fill-in governor would rather not

September 3, 2010 |  1:21 pm

Brewer It strikes me as a little childish to pick on a nervous candidate for stumbling over her words in the high-stakes environment of a televised debate. But Jan Brewer is no ordinary chief executive. Since taking over in 2009 for the elected Janet Napolitano, who left her post to become President Obama's Homeland Security secretary, Arizona's fill-in governor has signed into law some of the most mean-spirited, race-baiting legislation of the 21st century. Over 20-plus months and counting, she OKd Arizona's transformation into an immigration police state, banned ethnic studies in public schools and took away domestic partner benefits for gay and lesbian state employees.

And she'd rather not talk about it:

Incumbent Republican Jan Brewer said Thursday she has no intention of participating in any more events with Democrat Terry Goddard. She said the only reason she debated him on Wednesday is she had to to qualify for more than $1.7 million in public funds for her campaign.

"I certainly will take my message in a different venue out to the people of Arizona," she said....

Anyway, Brewer said, she believes the debates help Goddard more than they benefit her.

"Why would I want to give Terry a chance to redefine himself?" she said.

Brewer conceded that her performance in Wednesday's debate, and her refusal to answer a question from reporters afterward, was not well-handled. That includes an opening statement when she lost her train of thought and went silent, and walking away after the event rather than answering questions about her prior statements about headless bodies in the desert.

Brewer doesn't need much more exposure to win -- she has a nearly 20-point lead over her Democratic opponent. But elections aren’t just about deciding which candidate wins; they’re an opportunity for voters to decide what's best for their state. Brewer, one of the more consequential governors in the country, evidently wants Arizonans to make up their minds the way she does: easily and without much information.

-- Paul Thornton

Photo credit: Matt York / Associated Press

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