Pundits Dub Arizona Suit a Political Loser for Democrats

Democratic governors are worried about the White House's lawsuit—for good reason

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The Obama administration's lawsuit against Arizona's immigration law has Democratic governors worried. In closed-door meetings over the weekend, state executives expressed "grave concerns" over the White House's tough stance against Arizona's new legislation. "It is such a toxic subject, such an important time for Democrats" said Gov. Phil Bredesen, Democratic governor of Tennessee.

While pundits on the left and right disagree sharply on the legitimacy of the Arizona law, it's clear to both sides that the issue is politically dangerous:

  • 'Democratic Governors Are Right to Be Worried,' writes Seyward Darby at The New Republic: "Since Arizona passed its law in April, polls have consistently found that a majority of Americans support it. Last Thursday, Rasmussen found that 61 percent of people would support a similar law in their own states. And, last week, Gallup found that more people oppose the federal government's lawsuit than support it, by a margin of 50 percent to 33 percent. Seventy-nine percent of Republicans oppose the lawsuit, while 56 percent of Democrats favor it. Critically, 56 percent of independents oppose the suit--and Gallup recently showed this bloc is already trending toward Republican candidates this election cycle."
  • Indeed, the White House Is Acting Too Confrontational, writes Doug Mataconis at Outside the Beltway: "While politics shouldn't necessarily influence a decision to challenge a law that may very well be unconstitutional, the lawsuit is just the latest example of what has been a very odd response to the Arizona law by the White House. From the beginning, the White House has seemingly treated Arizona, and its Governor, as the enemy and has declined to put forward any real immigration policy of its own ...the President seems content to treat immigration as an academic debate without political consequence. Something tells me that strategy isn't going to work."
  • This Is Self-Destruction, writes Mary Katharine Ham at The Weekly Standard: "It's especially toxic for Democrats because their position is at odds with a solid majority of the public... Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano had a sit-down with Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, which Brewer described as 'cordial,' but no doubt did nothing to change the governor's open, vocal disagreement with the administration." Ham, a conservative, appears pleased that Obama is "making Democrats look increasingly out of touch by pushing an ambitious, unpopular immigration bill while everyone's worried about jobs."
  • Long Term Consequences? Stephanie Condon of CBS News notes that there are concerns not only because 19 Democratic governors seats are in play. The bigger stake is that a "swing in governorships to the GOP could have broad implications in light of the redistricting set to take place in the wake of this year's census."
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