Arizona Immigration Bill Roils Politics at the State Level

The big losers stand to be the Democrats opposing Brewer and McCain or Hayworth. Former Phoenix Mayor and current AZ Attorney General Terry Goddard came within a whisker of winning the governor’s mansion in 1990 when he lost to Fife Symington by 4,300 votes. Running again 20 years later, Goddard has opposed the Arizona immigration bill and in polling this month he has declined sharply against Brewer, still his most likely opponent. Last month he led her by nine percentage points; this month he trails by four. This is not that surprising, as his vocal opposition to the bill runs against even Democratic primary voters, who support the measure by a 51%-43% margin.

The Democratic challenger for McCain’s seat is Tucson businessman and Vice-Mayor Rodney Glassman. While there are currently no polls matching up McCain or Hayworth with Glassman, he’s the latest sacrificial lamb being offered up by the Democrats for this seat, following in the footsteps of Claire Sargent (31% of the vote) in 1992, Ed Ranger (27%) in 1998, and Stuart Starkey (20%) in 2004. Glassman did come out in opposition to the immigration bill -- after it was signed -- but his signature issue is water management, and while that is an important topic in Arizona, it’s largely off the radar in the political environment of 2010.

Among Arizona’s congressional districts, there are three seats that the Democrats will be hard-pressed to hold. Districts 1, 5, and 8 are held by Ann Kirkpatrick, Harry Mitchell, and Gabrielle Giffords. Kirkpatrick is facing her first reelection , while Mitchell and Giffords are two-termers. All were elected in good years for the Democrats, but all are from districts that the Cook Political Report shows have a Republican partisan voter index. None have endorsed the law, and Giffords has called it “divisive,” but they have avoided supporting the boycott of Arizona called for by AZ-7 Representative Raul Grijalva.

At the statehouse level, the Arizona Republicans control both houses of the state legislature, and that is unlikely to change this fall. The immigration bill passed on a mostly partisan vote count with only one senate Republican voting against the measure.