Brewer brushes aside constitutional concerns over possible 3rd term as Arizona governor - East Valley Tribune: Politics

Brewer brushes aside constitutional concerns over possible 3rd term as Arizona governor

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Posted: Thursday, May 5, 2011 3:48 pm | Updated: 4:08 pm, Thu May 5, 2011.

Five months into her first full term, Gov. Jan Brewer said Thursday she is considering a third -- and legally questionable -- term in office.

"You never rule anything out in politics,'' Brewer told Capitol Media Services. And that, she said, includes a 2014 campaign for another four years as the state's chief executive.

More to the point, the governor said she does not buy the argument that a constitutional provision on term limits approved by voters in 1992 would keep her from serving a total of 10 years if that is her desire and the voters approve.

That constitutional language appears to be pretty straight forward.

First, it says that the governor and other executive officers can serve only two consecutive terms in office. More to the point, it says, "No member of the executive department after serving the maximum number of terms, which shall include any part of a term served, may serve in the same office until out of office for no less than one full term.''

It becomes an issue for Brewer because she became governor in January 2009 after her predecessor, Janet Napolitano, quit half way through her four-year term to become homeland security secretary in the Obama administration. Brewer won a full term of her own this past November and took the oath again in January.

That means by the end of 2014 Brewer will have served one-and-one-half terms in office.

But the governor said she does not read the constitution as barring her from serving two-and-one-half terms.

"It has been debated for years,'' Brewer said.

"I don't know if it ever has been resolved,'' she continued. "But legal counsel on several different levels have indicated to me that it has been misinterpreted, and said that I would have that opportunity if I did so choose to run again.''

But former state Attorney General Grant Woods said the "plain language'' of the measure would seem to prelude a 2014 campaign.

"It seems pretty clear that part of a term counts for a full term,'' said Woods. And he has no reason to want to thwart the governor, as he was co-chair of her 2010 campaign.

Even assuming the language could be read to allow Brewer to seek another full term, that could prove a hard sell in the courts.

One thing judges look at, beyond the plain words, is the intent of voters. And one clue of that is how the measure was sold and explained to voters.

Of note is that the explanation of the measure, prepared by legislative attorneys and placed into the pamphlet mailed in 1992 to voters, says that "service for any portion of a term would count as service for a full term.''

One advantage to Brewer even making noise about seeking another four years is that lawmakers and others would not see her as a lame duck.

"I would not like them to treat me like a lame duck,'' the governor said. "I'm still the governor of the state of Arizona.''

But she became more reticent to discuss the issue when asked outright whether there is a Brewer 2014 campaign in her future.

"Well, you know, I'm just getting my first four full years, if you will,'' she said.

"So I haven't given it a whole lot of thought,'' Brewer said. "But, you know, you never rule anything out in politics.''

And Brewer, who is 66, brushed aside questions of what factors would play into a decision about a 2014 campaign.

"We have four more years basically to determine just exactly where I'm going,'' the governor responded.

"My life has had an interesting path,'' she said. "We'll see.''

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