Arizona Republican Governor Jan Brewer has been found after having been mysteriously missing for a week. Brewer, after spending a fair amount of time on Facebook commending our troops, (appropriately, given Veterans Day was last month,) turned up in Afghanistan, visiting the troops. Brewer also this week made a trip to Walter Reed Military Hospital in Maryland.
While it’s not entirely out of the realm for a sitting state Governor to visit troops in Afghanistan, it’s certainly not typical — and some might say looks a bit like paving her way for 2016.
In 2010, Massachusetts Democratic Governor Deval Patrick joined Governor Jim Douglas (R-VT), Governor Tim Pawlenty (R-MN), Governor Mike Rounds (R-SD) and Governor Jay Nixon (D-MO) on a DoD trip to Afghanistan. Last year, Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy and Delaware Governor Jack Markell did as well, as did Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee.
But a 2016 presidential run is not a huge stretch. Even before news broke today of Brewer’s Afghanistan jaunt, the Huffington Post reported Monday:
Brewer has also been included in a list of Republicans who may be positioning themselves for a presidential run in 2016. Politico reported on Monday that she had met with billionaire casino mogul and powerful GOP donor Sheldon Adelson during a recent trip to Las Vegas.
Governor Brewer’s “weeklong absence from Arizona has sparked a new round of controversy,” the Daily Beast notes. “Brewer’s political foes are chastising her for leaving the building just in time to avoid witnessing the official canvass for Arizona’s controversial election results. The traveling governor left that official duty to an underling—Secretary of State Ken Bennett, who also certified the results on Monday.”
Brewer faced similar criticism for the timing of her travels in 2011, when she went on a book tour in the midst of a redistricting flap, leaving underlings to remove the head of the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission. (Colleen Mathis, an Independent, was later reinstated by judicial order.)
“The concern is there’s a pattern here,” Democratic state Rep. Chad Campbell, the House minority leader, tells The Daily Beast. “I fully support visiting the military … But why now? The governor wasn’t here on a day when a highly controversial election was certified, and she was in New York last year promoting her book on another huge day.”
Chad Campbell “doesn’t know what he’s talking about, and the less he knows the more he speaks, which is unfortunate,” counters Brewer’s spokesman, Matthew Benson. “Ordinarily the governor attends the canvass, but circumstances intervened,” he tells The Daily Beast, and any inference that Brewer missed the canvass on purpose is “completely absurd.”
In the meantime, officials and stakeholders are trying to sort out Arizona’s recent and highly controversial election results. Democrats have amassed a database of “incident reports” about voter problems and will be crunching raw election data to see if certain voter groups, such as Latinos, received more headache-causing provisional ballots than other groups.
Whatever Brewer’s motives for traveling to Afghanistan — be it to build up her credentials for a 2016 presidential run, or, perhaps, just maybe, because she actually cares about the troops, she’ll have a rough time getting support from many in her part — much less across the aisle.
The most recent poll we could find on Brewer, from February, by Public Policy Polling notes:
Arizona voters are divided on whether they approve of Governor Jan Brewer’s job performance, a new poll from Public Policy Polling finds. 46% of voters approve of the Governor’s job performance while 47% disapprove. Democrats strongly disapprove (15/84), Republicans strongly approve (75/18), and a majority of independent voters disapprove (35/54). Most voters would oppose a recall of Governor Brewer, with just 35% supporting such an idea and 58% opposed.
“Voters generally aren’t thrilled with Jan Brewer’s job performance, but they don’t dislike her enough to recall her,” said Dean Debnam, President of Public Policy Polling.
Even Brewer’s fellow Governors aren’t fans. The Huffington Post in the same report noted:
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) played something of a host this weekend as her colleagues convened for the Western Governors Association’s annual winter meeting in Paradise Valley, Ariz. When it came time for her to deliver her keynote address, however, most of her fellow governors were nowhere to be found.
As 3TV News reports, only two of the 19 governors gathered at the conference were in attendance as Brewer spoke on Saturday night. The two governors present, Colorado’s John Hickenlooper (D) and Utah’s Gary Herbert (R), serve as vice chairman and chairman of the Western Governors Association.
Brewer 2016? Good luck with that.
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