Brewer eyes third term as governor

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

PHOENIX -- While the votes for this election are still being counted, Gov. Jan Brewer is starting to make noise about 2014.

Brewer recently told the Arizona Republic that she's still thinking about challenging the state constitution to run for a third term.

At a public event on Tuesday Brewer said, "Of course, I've been encouraged from people in the state and elsewhere to at least consider it, but you know, I haven't given it that kind of consideration. I love what i'm doing. I think I could continue."

Her spokesman, Matthew Benson, confirmed that the state's top executive is mulling over a decision but hasn't made up her mind.

The Arizona Constitution limits governors to just two terms in office. But Brewer's lawyers say the law doesn't apply in this case because Brewer took over for Gov. Janet Napolitano in the middle or her second term.

Napolitano left in 2009 to take a job as the U.S. Homeland Security Chief.  That elevated Brewer, who was then secretary of state, to the governor’s office.

"In that situation the person who was duly elected as secretary of state should not be punished for having inherited the office," said Joe Kanefield, who served as legal counsel for Brewer during her time as secretary of the state and as governor.

He says Brewer should be allowed to run.

The constitution, however, says even serving part of a term counts.

According to Article 5, Section 1 of the constitution, "No member of the executive department after serving the maximum number of terms, which shall include any part of a term served, may serve in the same office..."

Anyone looking for more clarity from the state's top election official or its top legal mind, they wasn't going to get it on Monday.

Both Secretary of State Ken Bennett and Attorney General Tom Horne declined to comment for this story. The two Republicans are eying runs for the governor’s office in two years.

Horne said he hasn't been asked to look at the possibility of Brewer running, so he didn’t want to speculate.

Bennett said he was too busy overseeing the vote count from Tuesday's election. As of late Monday, there were still about 343,000 uncounted ballots statewide.

Even if the governor is allowed run, it's unclear how well she'd do. Recent polling shows voters are split on Brewer's job performance.

The Democratic leaning Public Policy Polling release a survey last month showing 47 percent of voters approve of the job she's doing while 46 percent disapproved.

But her political handlers say those numbers don't mean much, and believe Brewer would win if she's allowed to run in two years.

Doug Cole, who's firm HighGround, Inc., ran Brewer's campaign two years ago, says you can never count out Brewer.

In January 2010, Cole said, the conventional wisdom was Brewer couldn't win a Republican primary.

"We all know what happened," he said.

Brewer easily won her primary before cruising to victory over Democrat Terry Goddard.

"Don't ever count out any politician two years from an election," Cole said.