Pueblo Politics: Last challenger standing says he's sticking in the Gov's race

2010-07-14T16:08:00Z Pueblo Politics: Last challenger standing says he's sticking in the Gov's raceRhonda Bodfield Arizona Daily Star
July 14, 2010 4:08 pm  • 

One by one, Gov. Jan Brewer’s GOP challengers fell by the wayside. First Tucson attorney John Munger, then state Treasurer Dean Martin and most recently, businessman Buz Mills.

But the only Republican challenger left in the race, Matt Jette, says he isn’t going anywhere, even though he says he is so unpopular with Republicans that he’s given up trying to appeal to most of them.

“The last time I was in Tucson, the Republican group there didn’t have a welcome mat for Matt,” he quipped, hearkening back to an early debate when he was heckled and booed. “After a while, you just have to say, I’m not going to get those voters anyway.”

Still, he says he’s going to succeed where the others have fallen short because he has a better campaign strategy.

“Dean’s strategy was to create an immigration policy that is more to the right, more conservative than Jan’s, but that didn’t get Jan off the immigration pedestal,” Jette said. “Buz tried to talk about the economy — reducing taxes, reducing spending — that didn’t get her off the pedestal.”

“I don’t want her off of it,” he said. He wants her to keep talking about it, he said, because her rhetoric is becoming increasingly overblown, from saying most immigrants are drug runners to instigating fear of beheadings.

“The more she’s on it, the more apparent it is that she doesn’t care about health care or education or the economy,” he said, adding he doesn’t buy her sales tax hike as proof she cares about education.

“I voted for it because the alternative was unacceptable, but if she truly cared about education, she would have fixed it structurally,” he said.

Jette, who lost his job in January selling pharmaceuticals to cardiologists, has been running the equivalent of a stealth campaign — eschewing press releases or stump speeches at traditional GOP venues. He’s going to a forum with the Arizona Education Association tonight, for example, because he has their endorsement. “Do Republicans care about that? No. They simply don’t.”

He said his goal is to reach the moderates and Independents who are disaffected with Brewer.

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The Arizona Daily Star's Pueblo Politics blog includes stories and related items from the Tucson and Pima County political scene written by Star reporters Becky Pallack and Joe Ferguson.

Have a political topic you would like to see in the blog or suggestions? Email Becky Pallack at bpallack@tucson.com and Joe Ferguson at jferguson@tucson.com