Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer assumed the state’s top office in 2009, after then-Gov. Janet Napolitano left mid-term to accept a cabinet post with the Obama administration. In Arizona the line of gubernatorial ascension is via the office of the Secretary of State. Jan Brewer is no political novice, having previously been elected to the state House, Senate, Board of Supervisors and as Secretary of State. After taking the helm of state in the midst of Napolitano’s hasty exit, Brewer was elected to a full 4-year term in 2010.
Gov. Brewer has expressed interest in running for a second full term, saying she may legally challenge the Constitutional restriction. The state Constitution limits executive officers to two consecutive four-year terms, including “any part of a term served.” She might argue her move from the Secretary of State’s post to the Ninth Floor Office was automatic upon Napolitano’s leave taking — causing her to inherit the office.
Although some legal experts say the likelihood of a successful challenge would be very low, Joe Kanefield, a one-time assistant attorney general, former state election director and Gov. Brewer’s general counsel — now in private practice — thinks otherwise, and makes some cogent points, including one regarding the original intent of the limitation as it relates to “gaming“ the system.*
The Secretary of State’s post has long been a pathway to Arizona’s Governorship for a number of politicos. A third of the way through his full term, Gov. Raul Castro left to become ambassador to Argentina. Secretary of State Wesley Bolin took the reins in 1977, but served only five months before succumbing to a heart attack. His untimely death paved the way for Attorney General Bruce Babbitt, the next in line of succession, since then-Secretary of State Rose Mofford was appointed and not holding the office by election, as required by the Arizona Constitution. She later ran and was elected, putting her in position to succeed Gov. Evan Mecham. He was elected in January 1987 and was impeached in April 1988. Rose Mofford chose not to run for a full term as governor. Fife Symington was elected governor in 1991 and stepped down amid allegations of wrongdoing in September 1997. That paved the way to the governor’s office for Secretary of State Jane Dee Hull, who then ran for a single full term.
Article V, §1 of the Arizona Constitution devotes three sentences to the matter.
In a My Turn piece in the daily, Kanefield writes: *Constitution clears Brewer to pursue another term.
Do you agree?