Mills drops campaign against Brewer

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Buz Mills speaks into microphones.
Buz Mills is the second Arizona Republican in the past week to suspend his gubernatorial campaign. AP

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Buz Mills is the second Arizona Republican in the past week to suspend his gubernatorial campaign, virtually assuring Gov. Jan Brewer a clear path to nomination in the state’s Aug. 24 primary.

Like state Treasurer Dean Martin, who ended his campaign Friday, Mills, a National Rifle Association board member, cited the state’s controversial immigration law, which boosted the incumbent’s once-struggling poll numbers, as the impetus behind his decision and criticized the federal government’s lawsuit against the law.

Mills’s embrace of Brewer was much more tenuous than Martin, who praised the governor on the immigration issue. Mills used his Tuesday withdrawal statement to renew his criticisms of “career politicians who were running on higher taxes and more spending.”

“Under normal circumstances strong fiscal conservatives do well in Republican primary contests. I liked my chances. Unfortunately, these aren't normal circumstances,” Mills wrote on his campaign web site Tuesday evening. “SB1070 has regrettably taken the focus off of job creation and fixing the state budget. So even though the chasm between Brewer's policies and mine is dramatic, SB1070 has politically mitigated those issues. I have therefore decided to suspend the campaign.”

Polls as late as March showed Mills and Martin neck and neck with Brewer in a contested GOP primary, but after signing the April immigration law, her popularity—and chances to win the nomination—skyrocketed. On Monday, Brewer earned the backing of the state’s two U.S. senators, John McCain and Jon Kyl.

Once trailing Democrat Terry Goddard in the general election, who is unopposed for the Democratic nomination, Brewer led the state’s attorney general by 18 points in the most recent June Rasmussen Reports poll.

In her own statement Tuesday night, Brewer said the actions of her former challengers were evidence of the success she’s had since taking office in January 2009 when Democratic Gov. Janet Napolitano left to join President Obama’s cabinet as Homeland Security secretary.

"We have stabilized the State’s unsustainable spending in previous state budgets, and provided stability for the citizens and businesses of Arizona. Certainly, more work needs to be done and a united Republican party will provide the leadership to deliver Arizona to a better future,” said Brewer. "I welcome Mr. Mills’ supporters to join me in continuing the Arizona comeback with a victory in November." 

Political scientist Matthew Jette, who has not yet mounted a serious campaign, is now the only other Republican challenger.

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