Originally Published: September 28, 2000 7:15 p.m.
PRESCOTT – She was willing to cross state lines to promote Texas Gov. George W. Bush over U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., for the presidency, but party lines proved firmer Wednesday as Gov. Jane D. Hull said she would support state Rep. Barbara Blewster's bid for re-election.
"I feel like I'm a person and I can endorse people if I want to," the governor said during a wide-ranging discussion at the offices of The Daily Courier. She added that she will continue to support Blewster's fellow Republican and sometimes nemesis, Linda Binder, who, along with Blewster, is vying for a return trip to the Legislature against Democrat Henry Camarot of Prescott.
Hull tempered her approval of Blewster with the hope that the Dewey representative will in the future take more time to listen and work with the executive branch on issues.
"I just want people who I can talk to and who will listen," she said. "I sometimes have great problems reasoning with her. She doesn't always seem to understand."
Hull said that Blewster approached her during a gathering of city and town officials at the Prescott Resort Wednesday and asked for her endorsement. Having known Blewster for 15 years, she said she is more comfortable with her than with Camarot, with whom she said she is barely acquainted.
Blewster was unavailable for comment but her campaign manager, Liz May, said the endorsement was appropriate.
"It means that the primary is over and the Republicans are going to stand together," May said. She also noted that, despite their well-known disagreements on certain issues, there are other issues on which Blewster and Hull concur.
"Barbara has always been willing to sit down with the governor and have open communications," May said. "She and the governor disagree sometimes, on spending in particular, but when it comes to issues they agree on, like eliminating the vehicle license tax, they can and do work together."
Hull also took a step toward easing growing concerns in the local court system by acknowledging that she is ready to approve the creation of a sixth judicial division for Yavapai County. Growing caseloads and declining state money for the existing Pro Tem division led the Board of Supervisors to request the new division in late spring, but the request stalled for a bit awaiting Hull's signature.
Statutes call for a county to have one judicial division for each 30,000 people or a majority fraction of that number.
Using Department of Economic Security figures and projections, county officials predict a population of about 166,000 – 1,000 more than the required minimum – by the time the division is to open for business on Jan. 1, 2000.
Staff inquiries into those estimates and the fact that, in the midst of election season, "We had a few other things going on," led to the delay. "It's probably pretty close now," she said.
Once she signs the request, the proposal goes to the U.S. Department of Justice for a review that will take about 60 days.
Hull touched on a number of topics during her Prescott visit, including her dismay with the performance of the Clean Elections Act. Noting in particular the District 1 Legislative race in which Caleb Soptolean used "clean" money to launch a bitter attack against Binder, the governor challenged lawmakers to re-visit the mechanics of the act.
"Hopefully the Legislature will have the fortitude to go in and fix it," she said. "It's not functioning the way it was supposed to, and even the people who supported it have to agree with that."
On the topic of amnesty for long-time illegal immigrants, an issue that supporters are trying to push through the U.S. Congress before it adjourns next week, Hull urged caution. "I have been pretty out-front with the idea of a temporary worker program," she said, "but I probably would rather see us take a look at our whole immigration policy before considering amnesty again."
Remaining a strong supporter of Gov. Bush's bid for the White House, Hull noted a new trend in presidential campaigning, one she feels will benefit the Republican.
"I watched Bush last night and I thought it interesting that presidential politics is all being aired on the talk shows," she said. "I think, for Bush, that's really a great way to show himself."