It looks like Jan Brewer is going to have a financial edge over Terry Goddard even though they’re both getting the same amount of public dollars.
The Republican Governors Association has put more than $1.1 million into its Arizona account. That is money the organization is free to spend to convince voters to give the incumbent a full term, above and beyond her own nearly $1.1 million allocation from the Citizens Clean Elections Commission.
By contrast, there is less than $1,500 in the similar Arizona account set up by the Democratic Governors Association.
But representatives of both groups told Capitol Media Services the figures don’t necessarily reflect what they eventually will pour into the campaign.
RGA spokesman Mike Schrimpf said if Brewer manages to maintain her double-digit lead over Goddard, his organization might decide to move some of the cash out of Arizona and into races in other states. Conversely, Emily Bittner, his Democratic counterpart, said the lack of funds in her group’s account doesn’t mean that’s all it is committed to spend.
The financial disclosure comes as Goddard, hoping to make up some ground, is challenging Brewer to a series of six debates. But Brewer campaign aide Doug Cole won’t make any such commitment beyond the one debate she’s legally required to participate in by virtue of taking public dollars.
“We will do the televised Clean Elections debate on Sept. 1,’’ he said.
Cole said any future debates will be decided after that. But he insisted that Brewer’s willingness to face Goddard will have nothing to do with whether her lead over him in the polls starts to shrink.
On paper, Goddard has the same amount of money as Brewer to make his case: Each publicly financed contender gets $1,061,171 to spend between next week’s primary and the Nov. 2 general election.
But nothing in that law keeps outside groups from running their own campaigns for or against these candidates. The only requirement is that any such spending must be done independent of and without coordination with the candidates.
Goddard said the Democratic Governors Association was very helpful four years ago in assisting Democrat Janet Napolitano in winning a second term. He noted, though, she was president of the organization; Goddard is not only not an official of DGA but isn’t even an incumbent.
He said he could only guess how much DGA officials are willing to spend to have a Democrat as the top state elected official.
“The decisions they’re making right now are going to be heavily influenced by two big states: Florida and California,’’ he said. But Goddard indicated he’s not optimistic about outside help.
“What I’m hearing is if they play in either one or both, the rest of the country can basically go for it by themselves because they’re not going to have any national assistance,’’ he said.
Bittner said she won’t disclose the tactics of her organization and its plans to aid Goddard. But she said the fact there is less than $1,500 in the account should not be seen as a belief that he has no chance and the group’s funds should be spent elsewhere.
“There are a lot of avenues and way for us to be active there,’’ Bittner said, saying the DGA’s Arizona fund “is just one of them.’’
Polls taken late last year showed Goddard, the state attorney general, with a good chance of ousting Brewer from the job she inherited after Napolitano quit to take the post of Homeland Security chief in the Obama administration.
All that, however, was before the Legislature approved — and Brewer signed — what is billed as the toughest law aimed at illegal immigrants in the country. The incumbent’s popularity rose with that action as well as her high-profile defense of the law against legal challenges brought by the U.S. Department of Justice.
Goddard wants just one of the debates related to immigration and border security. But three of the remaining five are related directly to the economy: balancing the budget, creating jobs, and tourism, energy, the environment and reviving rural Arizona.
He said the race is — or at least should be — about the economy.
“There are two big indicators out there,’’ he said. “And, frankly, all the ones that I’ve seen show that Arizonans are fundamentally concerned about the broken economy, about the failure to bring in new jobs, about the huge loss of jobs, and about the fact that unemployment keeps going up.’’
Brewer has said she is doing something about the economy by balancing the budget and successfully convincing voters to enact a one-cent hike in state sales taxes for three years. She also claims credit for bringing new employers into the state.
Goddard conceded he has not yet unveiled any sort of master plan to restore the economy or balance the budget.