Can Arizona Governor Jan Brewer (R) for re-election? It's a straightforward question with a seemingly obvious answer, but a controversy is unfolding nevertheless.
The 68-year-old Republican is weighing a bid for four more years in office even though a voter-approved 1992 constitutional amendment limits the state's top officials to two consecutive terms, including "any part" of one served. Brewer was elected in 2010 after completing the remaining two years of Democrat Janet Napolitano's term.
"I haven't ruled anything out," Brewer said yesterday after a ceremonial bill-signing in Peoria, Arizona, a suburb of Phoenix.
At least in theory, the decision isn't entirely hers to make -- the law limits governors to two terms, including "any part" of one term. Brewer became governor in early 2009, succeeding Janet Napolitano, and serving the final two years of Napolitano's term. Then Brewer won a full term of her own. One and one is two, and the law doesn't seem to leave a lot of wiggle room.
"The constitution is quite clear," Paul Bender, Arizona State University law professor told Bloomberg Businessweek. "She cannot run again, and I don't think there is any real significant doubt about it."
And yet, Brewer hasn't "ruled anything out," and her lawyer, Joe Kanefield, insists there are subtle ambiguities in the law that offers her the opportunity to run for a third term.
"It comes down to, what does a term mean?" Kanefield said.
If Brewer decides to test the law, the matter will almost certainly end up before the Arizona Supreme Court. The governor will not enjoy the support of Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett, the state's second-highest ranking Republican, who wants Brewer's job, and insists the governor is no longer eligible to run for re-election.