From the political notebook: • Gov. Janet Napolitano’s governing style has served her well. However, it sometimes does not serve the state well, as was the case with the employer sanctions bill.
As a matter of policy, Napolitano refuses to comment on legislation as it is being developed. For stuff Republicans are concocting to send her way, that policy makes some sense. Why get caught up in a difficult political situation until Republicans prove they can pull it off?
However, the employer sanctions legislation was supposedly one of Napolitano’s priorities. In her 2006 State of the State message, she made cracking down on employers who hire illegal workers part of her plan to reduce illegal immigration.
If it was part of her plan, you’d expect Napolitano to offer some specifics as to what she proposes. She not only didn’t do that, she also refused to offer opinions or guidance on bills the Legislature was crafting on its own on the subject.
Napolitano last year vetoed an employer sanctions bill on the grounds that it wasn’t tough enough. She signed this year’s, but said it was flawed and proposed a special session to fix it.
I think she’s overstating the potential problems with the bill. But the time to raise these issues is as the bill is being developed, not after it is signed.
• The bill will force Arizona businesses to move toward a more legal work force. This isn’t really because of the enforcement provisions in the bill, but because of the requirement that the work eligibility of all new hires be verified electronically through a federal program. That should cut off the access of illegal workers to the formal economy for new jobs.
Whether the transition to a more legal work force is smooth or rough depends on the county attorneys, who have the primary responsibility to enforce the new bill.
If the bill is enforced as written, only employers acting in bad faith, purposely conniving to secure illegal workers, should be caught up in it.
The real threat is trophy- hunting by county attorneys, stretching the true parameters of the bill to make a political splash on the illegal immigration issue. Which means that Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas is the guy to watch.
• John McCain’s problem isn’t really the amount of money he has raised. He scooped in $24 million, which would have put him behind Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney, both of whom have raised in the low $30 millions, but in the game.
The real problem is that he has only $2 million of it left.
McCain tried to run a front-runner’s grind-it-out campaign – be everywhere, compete everywhere, try to win everywhere.
McCain will now try to run an insurgent’s campaign, attempting to use an early victory in New Hampshire or South Carolina to slingshot him to victory. The calendar, however, is stacked against such a campaign, with so many big-state primaries being held Feb. 5 or earlier.
McCain’s winning strategy, if there was one, was probably a survivor’s campaign of attrition. He’s not the base’s first choice. However, he should be acceptable on the social issues and is the most believable opponent of the Washington spending culture in the field.
But a survivor’s strategy requires husbanding resources, which McCain did not do.
Read another column by Robert Robb: The Supreme Court, diversity in schools, and individual rights.
Robert Robb is a columnist for The Arizona Republic.