Arizona Governor Jan Brewer this week decided to inject herself into the super-close Senate race between Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and former Surgeon General Richard Carmona (D), using her political action committee (JanPAC) to spend $100,000 printing and supporting mailers supporting Flake over Carmona.
As Capitol Media Services reported yesterday:
PAC spokesman Paul Senseman said his boss believes she needed to add her voice — and her cash — to ensure there is not a Carmona victory.
“She is very fond of Congressman Flake (and) believes his record and his approach to problem solving is exactly what we need in Washington, D.C.,” Senseman said.
In our opinion, if the Governor were serious about wanting to help Rep. Flake, she would take the $100,000 she just spent and cut an ad singing Carmona’s praises. That is literally the best use of her money in a campaign where being tied to her can only hurt Flake, rather than help him.
Let’s go over the facts: Flake and Carmona are locked in an extremely tight contest where the latest polling average has Flake ahead by less than one percent. Latinos are nearly 20% of the state’s voting electorate and Carmona, if elected, would be the state’s first Latino Senator. Meanwhile, Arizona is a state where immigration policy is extremely important to Latino voters—the percentage of Latino voters who consider immigration to be the top issue facing the Latino community that Congress and the President should address is higher than the percentage who say the same about jobs or the economy. Ninety-two percent of Arizona Latino voters say that they factor a candidates’ positions on immigration into their decisions on who to vote for.
Yet Jeff Flake is the guy who refused to vote for the DREAM Act in 2010 despite having supported comprehensive immigration reform just a few years earlier. He’s the guy who now calls immigration reform a “dead end” and stonewalls against it by falling back on the Republican talking point of “border security first.” And now he’s the guy being partially bankrolled by Jan Brewer—the public face of SB 1070, the state anti-immigrant law that Latino voters despise. No wonder Flake, at 12%, is polling even lower among Arizona Latino voters than Mitt Romney (14%).
Flake knows he’s in big trouble with Latino voters, whose lack of support could cost him the election. This week, he told a Spanish-language newspaper, Prensa Hispana, that he would vote for “a version” DREAM Act if elected to the Senate and would help push for immigration reform, working with old colleagues because “we desperately need a solution for people who are here illegally.” He must be counting on Latino voters to not be able to read in English as well as Spanish, or to not understand political doubletalk when they see it–because those comments are diametrically opposed to what he said during his primary this year (“In the past, I have support a broad approach to immigration reform…I no longer do. I’ve been down that road, and it is a dead end”) and what he said when he voted against the DREAM Act.
Here’s the true test: would Governor Jan Brewer—who is so spiteful about immigrants that she recently signed an executive order refusing state services even to DREAMers recognized by Obama’s deferred action program—spend $100,000 on Jeff Flake if sending him to the Senate really meant a vote for the DREAM Act and comprehensive immigration reform?
We don’t think so.
Ultimately, Jeff Flake made his bed when he voted against the DREAM Act in 2010 and chose to deny opportunities to young immigrants seeking to give back to their country. It’s why Jan Brewer supports him, and it’s why Latinos won’t. If Flake loses in Arizona this November, it’ll be his anti-immigrant positions—and that of the Arizona Republicans—that are to blame. It could have been different, if Flake remained a “different” kind of Republican on immigration. But he didn’t.
As Republican strategist Ana Navarro said during a press briefing this week, “If Republicans lose Jeff Flake’s Senate seat in Arizona, I would say to Jan Brewer and Sheriff Joe Arpaio that ‘you built that.’”