Secretary of State Jan Brewer on Thursday sidestepped questions about how the direction of state government will change once she takes over from Gov. Janet Napolitano, perhaps as early as next month.
Napolitano, whose four-year term runs through the end of 2010, said she intends to resign after the U.S. Senate confirms her nomination as the new head of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
"Certainly this is not the best way to ascend to the seat of the governor," Brewer said of the anticipated transition, during a brief meeting with reporters. "It certainly would have been much nicer to have been elected by the people."
Brewer said voters were aware when they elected her for a second term as secretary of state in 2006 - the same year they re-elected Napolitano - that she would be first in line of succession if the incumbent governor resigns.
Brewer, a Republican who also served 14 years in the state Legislature, has both a voting record and a series of public statements that made it clear her philosophy of government is far different than the Democratic incumbent.
"I'll do the very best job that I can in regards to setting good policies for the state of Arizona," she said Thursday.
Brewer would not provide specifics of what might change, saying there are many policies that Napolitano enacted.
"I don't know which policies you're referring to," she said.
One of the policies Napolitano enacted extends insurance benefits that had been reserved for spouses of state employees to the domestic partners of state workers. That move was enacted without legislative approval.
"I'm going to bone up on that issue and make a decision and let you know, maybe later on," Brewer said.
Brewer's comments came after a closed-door meeting with Napolitano. Brewer said the purpose was to expedite the transition of power and to brief her on negotiations Napolitano is having with the leadership of the Republican-controlled Legislature to deal with an anticipated $1.2 billion deficit in the current budget.
Napolitano would not talk to reporters after the meeting, with gubernatorial press aide Jeanine L'Ecuyer saying the governor was not available.
Some Democratic lawmakers have been openly critical of Napolitano for quitting before the end of her term, as the move will leave Republicans in control of both the executive and legislative branches of government. Napolitano had used her veto pen a record number of times to block many GOP ideas.
But Napolitano herself, at a joint appearance with Brewer earlier this week, appeared unconcerned about the effect of her departure.
"I have confidence in the leadership that will follow me," the governor said.
In a recent statewide survey, 76 percent of those questioned rated Napolitano's performance in office as good or excellent.
The comparable figure for Brewer was 35 percent. But 57 percent who responded said they did not have enough information about Brewer's job performance to register an opinion.