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Díaz and Roberts: Jan Brewer is endorsing Arizona Republican candidates against their MAGA opponents

Former Arizona governor Jan Brewer, one of the most powerful Republicans in the state, at one time is working against the MAGA branch of the party in Maricopa County's elections this November. She has endorsed several incumbents in a series of county races this fall. Incumbents who are being challenged by far-right candidates.

All of this matters a whole lot to politicians on both sides because of course, it is county officials who control the county's election.

Brewer should be joined by other former Republican governors of our state, according to Laurie Roberts, a columnist for the Arizona Republic's opinion pages. She joined editorial page editor Elvia Díaz to talk more about it on The Show.

Full conversation

LAUREN GILGER: So Laurie, let's begin with you here and just what we're seeing from former Gov. Brewer right now in terms of endorsements. Give us the rundown.

LAURIE ROBERTS: Well, what we're seeing is a, is a rarity in politics in recent years. And that is a Republican, who is an establishment Republican, who is taking a stand against that wing of her party, what we would call the conspiracy wing, the MAGA wing, of the party that is, that continues to say that all of our elections are corrupt and all of our public officials who, by the way in the county are Republicans, are corrupt. So she has now come out and endorsed four incumbents who are from the more establishment wing of the party who are being challenged by MAGA Republicans. She's also endorsed, I think a pair of other challengers who are going up against MAGA challengers for a couple of open seats on the county Board of Supervisors.

It's a signal, I think, that at least a few people are willing to stand up and it's a signal that a few other governors ought to follow along with her and do the same thing.

GILGER: Is this surprising to you, Elvia, given the conservative history of someone like Jen Brewer?

ELVIA DÍAZ: No, it doesn't. And you know what, to be honest, you know, even a few years ago, I would, I, I wouldn't think endorsements were that big of a deal. You know, we have seen that happening for many years, but now it has become increasingly important because it shows, you know, the kind of elected officials that you want. You know, and just like Laurie mentioned, we are talking about two wings, two factions of the, of the Republican Party. Well, what it is surprising is that Jan Brewer, if everyone recalls, she is and, you know, in, in my book and back in the day, the anti-immigrant governor, I mean, she's the one that signed SB 1070 that truly hurt the state financially and obviously with an image and, and truly hurt immigrants and, and ultimately Latinos here in this state. I mean, right now she is one of the sensible Republicans now compared to MAGA. And I will say that's, that's commendable, again, you know, endorsements have become important here. So, within the Republican Party at least.

ROBERTS: Well, and I think that's a really important point that Elvia makes, is that the MAGA wing, anytime anyone disagrees with them, you are automatically called a RHINO or a member of the uni-party or something like that. It's very difficult to call Jan Brewer. She signed Senate Bill 1070. Very difficult to call her a RHINO in any credible fashion.

GILGER: That's interesting. Remind us, Laurie, how much the County Board of Supervisors and other county official positions like Stephen Richer, right, like have to do with elections and why they're being targeted by the MAGA wing of the party.

ROBERTS: Well, they're being targeted because it's the county governments in this state that run our elections. The secretary of state has an overseeing view of the thing, but the, the nuts and bolts of elections are run by the county. And of course, the MAGA people are just convinced that the Republican-run Maricopa County Board of Supervisors and Republican Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer somehow sabotaged this election to throw it to Democrats and throw it to Joe Biden in 2020, and to Katie Hobbs and, and the Democratic slate in 2022. They've never really explained why a group of conservative Republicans who control the county would do that. They just are sure that it happened because, because they didn't win.

GILGER: And Elvia, it's, it's unusual in past years, maybe not in the, in the most recent election cycles, right? To see so much sort of intraparty fighting. What do you think this all says about the state of the GOP, not just here but kind of nationwide?

DÍAZ: Well, it tells me that the continues to be incredibly divided and that it is increasingly important to state your values. I mean, Jan Brewer has nothing to lose really by standing up to this MAGA Republicans. As far as I know, she's not running for any office. She's already said she already did her thing, but she has decided to stand up and that's incredibly important. And Laurie in her column, she was urging former Gov. [Doug] Ducey and Fife Symington to do this same thing. I do think it is important to stand up to your own party when you see something so so hurtful for democracy and, and for the country. So I absolutely commend her and I do think that there should be more of that where people are speaking up and, you know, clearly she seems to be fighting for her party, for her old party, not the MAGA Republicans that we see because, you know, clearly she sees a danger.

GILGER: Laurie, let's end with you here a little bit about what difference you think this could make, Brewer in particular if other former, you know, more "traditional GOP" politicians join in, I mean, do you think they can sway a certain number of voters in, in elections like these?

ROBERTS: Well, it depends on who votes in the primary. I, I do think that a Jan Brewer still holds a lot of street cred with conservatives. So her making endorsement sends a message. Generally speaking, as Elvia said, Republicans don't run against Republican incumbents. So you don't see this sort of thing happen. And generally speaking, Republicans never take a stand and endorse anyone if there's a contested primary. The fact that she's willing to do it here tells me and should tell conservatives, hey, there's something to look at here. Do we want the MAGA wing of the party to take over Maricopa County and thus administration of our elections or do we, do we think they're in decent hands now?

Certainly, I have to say certainly the Republicans could have done a better job in managing the last election. There was some bumbling, but was there outright sabotage as the MAGA folks would like us to believe? I just don't see it. And in fact, they've produced no evidence that says it's so.

KJZZ’s The Show transcripts are created on deadline. This text may not be in its final form. The authoritative record of KJZZ’s programming is the audio record.

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Lauren Gilger, host of KJZZ's The Show, is an award-winning journalist whose work has impacted communities large and small, exposing injustices and giving a voice to the voiceless and marginalized.