Arizona Governor Jan Brewer was a lightning rod at the summer meeting of the National Governors Association this weekend, as critics of her state's new immigration law descended on downtown Boston to denounce her appearance .
The protesters — who were bused in from other states and numbered about 400, according to the Boston Herald - oppose a law that Brewer signed in April, making it illegal to be an undocumented immigrant in Arizona and requiring police officers to inquire about immigration status when dealing with suspected violators. The law has inflamed passions on both sides of the immigration divide, and, last week, the Obama administration challenged the statute in court, re-igniting the debate over whether Arizona's approach is a wise one.
In Boston, immigration was not on the official NGA agenda, but The New York Times and other media outlets reported that many governors — particularly Democratic governors — view it as a top political issue heading into the fall elections. Several Democrats openly questioned the Obama administration's decision to sue Arizona, saying it could hurt their chances at the polls in an already difficult year for the party.
"I might have chosen both a different tack and a different time," Democratic Governor Bill Ritter of Colorado told The Times . "This is an issue that divides us politically, and I'm hopeful that their strategy doesn't do that in a way that makes it more difficult for candidates to get elected, particularly in the West."
"Maybe you do that (lawsuit) when you're strong," Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen, another Democrat, said, "and not when there's an election looming out there."
Neither Ritter nor Bredesen is running for reelection this year. Ritter decided not to run, while Bredesen is term-limited.
As Politico reported , immigration was just one of several subjects on which some Democratic governors pointed the finger at Washington. Deep concerns about unemployment — and particularly whether the $787 billion federal stimulus package was effective or not — are prompting further electoral worries among Democrats.