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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

The Unlikely Clout of Jan Brewer

As someone with a particular interest in the power of the immigration issue in the South, where Hispanics are newly visible but don’t vote in large numbers, I’ve been closely watching the impact of Arizona’s round-em-up law on competitive GOP primaries in Dixie. And it was particularly striking to see Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, an accidental governor who was something of a joke in her own state until quite recently, intervene in Georgia’s Republican gubernatorial primary on behalf of former Secretary of State Karen Handel.
Handel’s reaction to the endorsement was almost as excited as it might have been if she had really hit the conservative jackpot and gotten the nod from Sarah Palin. And right on cue, conservative political scientist John Tures, writing in Southern Political Report, called Brewer “the next Sarah Palin,” and credited her intervention for a reported rise in the polls by Handel.
We’ll see in a couple of weeks how this works out for Handel, who has positioned herself in the large Georgia gubernatorial field very much like SC’s Nikki Haley did before sexual allegations and attacks on her ethnicity took over the contest and lifted her to a relatively easy win in the Palmetto State’s GOP primary. But strange as it would have seemed not so very long ago, Brewer has morphed from a doomed and much-mocked candidate for re-election in her own state to a factor in campaigns thousands of miles away.

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