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Four Gubernatorial Candidates Debate Tonight

Phoenix, AZ – Fred Solop who chairs the Department of Politics and
International Affairs at Northern Arizona University said Brewer,
whose gubernatorial ambitions were close to being snuffed out
last year, is on a roll. He said the trick for her is to show
those who watch the event that she really is a leader.

(She's looking out for the interests of the state. She has spoken
up to Barack Obama and told the feds what to do on immigration
issues. She has to continue to demonstrate that leadership style
in the debate. She has to show that she's in charge. She can't
let one of the other candidates take over the debate, take
control of the agenda.)

Pollster Earl de Berge of the Behavior Research Center agreed
that Brewer needs to appear not only in control but also to come
across as calm and collected. He said the key is going to be
whether Buz Mills, Dean Martin or Matthew Jette can rattle her.
One area where de Berge thinks Brewer might be vulnerable is in
her support of the temporary sales tax hike. He said she needs to
show the economic value of the measure.

(If they corner her in some ideological way on it, that's I think
where she's most likely to get wounded. It's such a fundamental,
gut-wrenching issue for Republicans. I think that's the area of
potential weakness for her.)

One thing Brewer does have in her favor is the fact that voters
did approve the levy despite opposition from both Mills and
Martin. But Solop said that doesn't necessarily immunize Brewer
as her current battle is who wins the Republican primary.

(For those Republican candidates looking simply at the Republican
voters, they might not feel that they have to really speak to the
one-cent sales tax. They still feel that they're anti-tax and
Republican primary voters are anti-tax and they're going to move
forward with that position.)

Less clear is how the immigration issue will play in the debate.
De Berge said he believes the governor has nothing to worry

(I think she's going to be on the winning side of that because I
think the public believes that the adjustments have been made.
And lets see how it works. I don't think there's any deep
interest in going and beating up people any further than has
already been done.)

But Solop isn't so sure.

(They can argue that Jan Brewer was late in coming to the
immigration issue. Other people set the agenda and she hesitated
in signing SB 1070 into law. Ultimately she did sign that into
law, but she's been late in coming to the issue and hasn't really
been a leader on that issue.)

There's one other variable at work. Recent polls have shown Mills
and Martin virtually tied for second place, but both far behind
Brewer. De Berge said while both have so far been busy taking
shots at Brewer, that may not be what each really needs to do at
this stage of the campaign.

(The main thing that Mills is going to try to do, and Martin for
that matter, is knock the other one down so that it becomes a
two-person race. I think that's really what the best outcome
could be for either of them is to emerge as THE challenger to the

The person with the least to lose in all this is going to be
Jette, a virtual unknown who managed to get enough signatures to
qualify for the Republican primary ballot.

(He's on the podium and has an equal position to the others. So
anything is better than nothing.)

The debate will be aired at 7 this evening on KAET-TV, the
Phoenix PBS affiliate. For Arizona Public Radio this is Howard