by Jim Nintzel
After Gov. Jan Brewer pushed Medicaid expansion through the special session earlier this week, reaction from Democrats has been delight. State Rep. Bruce Wheeler, in a fairly typical reaction, said that lawmakers "set aside partisanship and worked with our colleagues across the aisle to create common-sense policy that augments funding for schools, fosters job creation and increases access to health care by expanding Medicaid."
Reaction on the right has been split. You've got Brewer pushing the Medicaid expansion through and thanking lawmakers for "joining me in putting the people of Arizona first." And on the other end of the Republican spectrum, you've got former state lawmaker Frank Antenori calling Republicans who worked with Democrats to pass the expansion "slime."
Given those dynamics, it's interesting to see how Robert Graham, the new chairman of the Arizona Republican Party, reacted to this week's events. Graham is in a bit of a no-win situation: Does he go against the governor and the business community, who wanted the expansion? Or does he go against the base, which is furious over it?
In a bid to avoid taking sides, Graham fell back on the usual strategy of those who don't want to talk about the merits of a particular situation: He complained about the process, rather than the policy: "I now call on all Republican legislators to restore the legitimate process that respects the authority that was given to the duly elected Republican House and Senate leadership. Let's also make sure that, as we close out the First Regular Session of the 51st Legislature, we support the remaining conservative core pieces of legislation and amendments that define the contrast between our party and that of the left."
Does that mean he was opposed the expansion or he supported it? That's the beauty of complaining about process: You don't have to take a stand on the underlying issue itself.
Graham's complete statement after the jump.
I serve as the elected Chairman of the Arizona Republican Party, with over a million voters strong in our state.
I also stand with those hundreds of thousands of taxpayers who voted for Republican candidates, knowing that Republicans support fiscal responsibility. I understand that everyone is under a lot of pressure here today. Many of you have not slept in a few days. We all agree there’s a lot at stake. However, I cannot overstate how disappointed I am with the parliamentary maneuvers that have played out over the past few days. Last year, our Republican legislative majority elected a Senate President and Speaker of the House empowering them to provide leadership consistent with the Republican Party platform. Vested in them is a constitutional responsibility to originate and craft a budget for the legislature to send the Executive branch. To their credit, they have worked long and hard to that end for over 100 days.
I now call on all Republican legislators to restore the legitimate process that respects the authority that was given to the duly elected Republican House and Senate leadership. Let's also make sure that, as we close out the First Regular Session of the 51st Legislature, we support the remaining conservative core pieces of legislation and amendments that define the contrast between our party and that of the left. I understand that each member of the legislature comes from a different district with different constituencies. But I also want to be very clear that each and every Republican who ran for office did so representing our party. As Republicans, we should stand united in the cause of promoting limited government, respect for life, defense of our Constitution, strict adherence to transparent governance and full support of legitimate parliamentary procedures that allow our leadership to do the job they were elected to do.