Last week, the Twitter account for John Dougherty's Senate race sent out a tweet that Governor Jan Brewer was rumored to be seriously ill -- too ill to finish a four-year term. Now you could dismiss this as "silly season" rumor-mongering, because Dougherty ran as a Democrat and Brewer is a Republican. Or because it came out first on Twitter, and not from a reputable journalistic source like the Arizona Republic. I don't dismiss it as a rumor. I predict that it will turn out to be true. More importantly, it matters so much to the future of Arizona that voters deserve to know!
I have lived in Arizona for 40 years. During that time, there have been many instances where, because something happened to the Governor (death, impeachment, political appointment to Washington, appointment to an ambassadorship) and we wound up with an ill-equipped person as our Governor in mid stream. The last time was, well, last time -- when President Obama appointed Janet Napolitano to Homeland Security, and she bailed on us, leaving the state in fiscal disarray (no blame, just observation). Governor Brewer was Secretary of State, and was elevated to Governor because Arizona doesn't have a Lieutenant Governor.
We can't afford to let this to happen again. The state is already known for poor governance, and the citizens are being buffeted by budget cuts while the businesses are buffeted by the immigration positions Brewer has taken.
I don't really have a dog in this hunt, as I am a registered Independent. I am usually far away from the rumor mill. But I am very close to Twitter, and to trusted sources on Twitter.
John Dougherty isn't a politician. He is an investigative journalist, and God knows why he even ran for office. In the 25 years I have followed his work, he has broken story after story for Village Voice Media, which is known for award-winning investigative journalism. I know those guys as well. For forty years. Dougherty has reasons to be tweeting this, I believe, that are more journalistic than political.
Why hasn't the "lamestream media" reported this yet? Because they have to worry about future access to the politicians they cover, and they've got to dot every I and cross every t before they go to print. I have also heard that the story will break this week.
I am a student of new journalism: I support collaborative and citizen journalism, I read bloggers, I listen to Jay Rosen and Dave Winer's podcast "Rebooting the News," I heard @ryantate talking about GawkerMedia's decision to stop worrying about "access" to sources, and now I feel willing to tell my friends where to look. I feel comfortable talking about this as a rumor, but one in which I personally believe.
Follow Francine Hardaway on Twitter: www.twitter.com/hardaway