THE BLOG

Arizona Finds New Friends Down South

05/13/2010 04:47 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Who loves you, Arizona? Not California. Not New Mexico. Not even Texas.

Try whistling Dixie.

Since the passage of SB1070, Arizona's new immigration law, the Grand Canyon State has become something of an outcast in its demographic neighborhood.

To its east, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson personally called Arizona Governor Jan Brewer to urge her not to sign the bill. When she ignored his advice residents of New Mexico responded with demonstrations and Richardson called the law "terrible...unconstitutional."

If Brewer was hoping to find support from the west, she came away disappointed. After Brewer signed the bill fellow GOP Gov. Arnold Schwarzenneger of California called it "a mess," adding he "would never do that in California, no way." The former actor added insult to injury by reducing Arizona to a one-liner; speaking at a college graduation the California governor said he was going to give a speech in Arizona, "but with my accent I was afraid they were going to deport me."

Brewer found a slightly better friend in Nevada's first term GOP Governor Jim Gibbons but even he doesn't actually support the bill, and Gibbons might not be a guy you want in your corner anyway: when asked about SB1070 Gibbons said: "Absolutely we ought to profile everybody who looks like a terrorist. I don't have a problem with that. But if they want to have a racial profile of Irishmen, then I'm going to question that."

To Arizona's northeast the race for governor in Colorado finds Arizona's immigration law liked by GOP candidates and opposed by Democratic ones, but Denver's school district made its opinion quite clear by banning work-related trips to Arizona (following a similar boycott by the San Diego school district).
Boulder's City Council is also boycotting Arizona, with Boulder's City Manager labeling the immigration law "abhorrent."

Brewer can't even find a good buddy in Texas; Conservative GOP Governor Rick Perry released a lengthy statement where he extolled the state's "rich history with Mexico" and refused to support the Arizona law, saying: "It would not be the right direction for Texas."

And Arizona's not getting much love from Utah, one of the most conservative states in the country: an editorial run in the Deseret News blasted Arizona's governor as "morally weak," and Salt Lake City's Police Chief said the law "sets law enforcement back 30 or 40 years."

Poor Arizonans. With the passage of this new law you may find yourself out of step with your neighbors, but take heart! According to Nate Silver of fivethirtyeight.com, there's one part of the country you can still find a little comfort.

The South.

In a post entitled Why Southern Republicans are Raising Arizona, Silver details how Republicans in the South, unlike their brethren in the West and Southwest, have rushed to proclaim their support of Arizona.

Two southern states, Georgia and South Carolina, admire Arizona's new law so much they want to copy it (and North Carolina may follow their lead). And with every GOP South Carolina candidate for governor singing the praises of SB1070, Silver says the state's got a case of "Arizona Fever." Silver sees Arizona supporters in Alabama too, claiming it's no coincidence that at least one prominent Alabama Republican decided now's a perfect time to revive the English-only battle cry.

Silver, noted for his election accuracy, predicts many Republican Southern candidates will embrace Arizona's new law as part of their election strategy, and that the only way it won't become a major election issue is "if every candidate marches in lockstep in favor of a clone of the Arizona law or something even more extreme."

Silver expects to see a lot more Southern Republicans sending love to Arizona during this election season, saying: "the Deep South may well choose immigration as a classic 'wedge issue.'"

With the passage of its immigration law Arizona may find itself increasing alone, and not just among its closest neighbors. In addition to California, New Mexico and Colorado, boycotts of the Grand Canyon State have stretched to the north in Minnesota and to the east in New England.

But it seems Jan Brewer has a lot of friends a-way down south, in Dixie.