Arizona Governor Jan Brewer’s super- political action committee is wading into three competitive U.S. House races in an unusual move to help Republicans in her state’s congressional delegation. “Jan PAC,” the committee formed last year by the governor known for signing the state’s tough immigration law in 2010, has spent almost $90,000 on brochures known as mailers opposing two Democrats and backing one Republican, according to Federal Election Commission filings. Two were sent this week.
The campaign spending — which follows months in which the committee’s main activity was buying copies of Brewer’s book, “Scorpions for Breakfast” — is unusual for sitting governors, who generally stay out of federal races, said David Wasserman, House editor for the nonpartisan Cook Political Report.
“She’s a much more political governor than most, and she doesn’t shy away from fights in her state,” Wasserman said. “She’s a partisan.”
Jan PAC spent $35,567 this week opposing a former Democratic representative, Ann Kirkpatrick, in her bid to return to the House from the redrawn 1st District in northwestern Arizona. Cook Political Report rates her race against former state Senator Jonathan Paton, a Republican, as a toss-up.
Democrats are leading in two other districts where Brewer’s PAC sponsored mailers, according to the Cook analysis. Her committee reported spending $23,257 on Oct. 12 to fund a brochure opposing former state Senator Kyrsten Sinema, a Democrat, in her bid for a new House seat added during redistricting to reflect Arizona’s population growth.
Brewer’s PAC also spent $29,651 this week on a mailer to support the Republican in the Tucson district formerly represented by Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who resigned earlier this year to recover from a gunshot to the head. That seat is currently held by former Giffords aide Ron Barber, a Democrat, who was also injured in the January 2011 shooting and won the post in a special election in August. Barber faces Martha McSally, a retired Air Force colonel who was the first woman fighter pilot to fly in combat.
The three races are the most competitive in the state and key to deciding which party gets the majority of Arizona’s House delegation. Five of eight seats are now held by Republicans, the reverse of 2008 when voters sent five Democrats to Congress. It will have nine House seats this year.
Brewer and other Republican officials opposed the new congressional map drawn by the state’s Independent Redistricting Committee last year, saying it favored Democrats. Brewer tried to fire the head of the commission, an independent. The state’s Supreme Court overturned the move.
“She’s trying to do at the ballot box what she couldn’t do in court,” Wasserman said, referring to the attempt to wrest control of the redistricting process by firing the commission’s chairwoman.
Brewer may wade into other federal races both inside Arizona and in other states, said Paul Senseman, a former Brewer aide who serves as a volunteer spokesman for Jan PAC.