Jan Brewer, the former Republican governor of Arizona and Donald Trump supporter, is fending off intense criticism after saying that Latinx people “don’t vote” in an interview on Friday.
“Nah,” Brewer told the Boston Globe, in regards to whether Latinx voters could be the key to tipping Arizona, which has become a toss-up state in the 2016 election, into the Democratic column. “They don’t get out and vote. They don’t vote.”
According to the Pew Research Center, 48% of eligible Latinx voters did so in 2012—down from 49.9% in 2008. But this year has seen the Latinx electorate mobilize in the face of Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant racism.
What’s more, Brewer’s glib dismissal of Latinx voters as a monolithic whole has, itself, energized some critics to prove her wrong.
“We don’t need Governor Brewer to challenge us,” Maricopa County Supervisor Steve Gallardo exclaimed during a rally on Saturday. “Their presidential candidate is doing enough to mobilize Latino community.”
Gallardo’s criticism was echoed by the Democratic National Committee, which called Brewer’s comments “the final nail in the coffin” of a 2012 Republican National Committee report that urged the party to make inroads with the Hispanic community.
“[Brewer] said in no uncertain terms that the Latino vote doesn’t matter, that it’s not going to make a difference this November,” the DNC said in a statement. “Her words are an incredibly offensive slap in the face to the Latino community.”
Brewer, for her part, attempted to walk back her crass remarks by on Saturday, tweeting that she wanted to see “100% turnout” for all demographics in her state.
Long before Trump tossed his hat into the presidential ring, Brewer had been seen by many as taking one of the hardest lines against immigration. In 2010, then-Governor Brewer signed into law SB 1070 (the “Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act”), one of the most heavy-handed pieces of anti-immigration legislation in the nation to date. The law required all immigrants in the state of Arizona to carry their documentation with them at all times, and allowed law enforcement officers to determine an individual’s immigration status during any encounter, provided they had reasonable suspicion to do so. The law has recently been scaled back significantly as a result of a settlement between Arizona and a number of immigrants rights groups.
In 2010, Brewer also suggested that “bodies in the desert” had been found by law enforcement officers “buried or beheaded”—a claim reportedly disputed by all the Arizona coroners tasked with handling immigration cases, prompting Brewer to admit that she had “misspoke.”
Whether Brewer’s dismissal of the Latinx community will produce enough of a backlash to drive Hispanic voters to the polls remains to be seen. But Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton (D) is already predicting a decidedly blue future for his state, telling local NBC affiliate 12 News:
“If Jan Brewer is believing the Latino voter turnout is going to be depressed and that’s how her candidate Donald Trump is going to win Arizona, she’s going to be sadly surprised.”