In this last legislative session Gov. Jan Brewer has moved the Arizona executive branch of government closer to the political center than Arizona has seen in years. She has become the check and balance to our conservative legislative branch that went missing when Janet Napolitano left to serve in the then new Obama administration as secretary of Homeland Security.

Brewer vetoed several Republican-sponsored bills focusing on gun-control issues. First, by vetoing HB 2339, a bill that would have allowed weapons in public buildings and public events that did not provide metal detectors or security guards at each public entrance, she demonstrated her concern for public safety and an understanding of the undue financial burden this piece of legislation carries.

On the same day the governor also vetoed HB 2517, a bill dictating that cities, towns and counties could not regulate firearms more strictly than the state. This bill would have also allowed for the assessment of a personal fine ($5,000) against the local official involved and exposed them to the possibility of a lawsuit ($100,000).

A veto on HB 2338 closely followed. This bill would have criminalized the act of knowingly taking control of a person’s lawfully possessed firearm with the intent to use the firearm to cause harm.

Brewer also demonstrated concern for the environment when she vetoed SB 1211, that would have allowed ranchers to kill Mexican gray wolves to protect livestock. She correctly stated in support of her veto that “the bill is unnecessary and conflicts with federal law.”

The governor issued a courageous fourth veto for HB 2367. By placing a five-year limit on Medicaid services received by Arizonans, this bill would have removed more than 200,000 adults from the AHCCCS rolls, not to mention the several hundred thousand minors who would have lost coverage on their 18th birthday.

Last, I need not remind everyone of her highly publicized veto of SB 1062. The attention of the nation was focused on this discriminatory bill disguised as a protection of religious freedoms.

All this from a Republican governor in a state where a Republican-controlled legislature has been in place for decades.

This same governor, in order to ensure her re-election, signed into law a controversial immigration bill (SB 1070) allowing racial profiling. This same governor not long ago was photographed shaking her finger in the face of a sitting president. That Jan Brewer was no moderate. This one, with these votes, is beginning to resemble one.

There are some Republican legislators who like to identify themselves as “moderate” but, in fact, are far to the right of moderate. These self-proclaimed “moderate” legislators passed every extreme bill even after being warned by the governor that her veto pen “still had plenty of ink.” By accepting these legislators as moderate, we are allowing the position of political center to be skewed far to the right.

We all can learn a little about the definition of moderate by examining the vetoes of Brewer. I am grateful she used her ink-filled veto pen to keep the 2014 Legislature in check.

Randall Friese is a Tucson trauma surgeon and a Democratic candidate for State House of Representatives (LD9). Contact him at