Gov. Jan Brewer announced Wednesday she will not seek another term in office, an effort that would have required a long-shot court challenge to the state's term-limits.
Arizona's Republican governor made the announcement on her home turf, at Park Meadows Elementary School in Glendale, during an event attended by both students and current and former Brewer staffers.
Those in attendance included her former budget guru Tom Manos, her son Michael Brewer, and her current chief of staff, Scott Smith, among others.
During her remarks, she stressed the need for leaders to focus on improving education to better position the next generation of Arizona's workforce.
The long-awaited decision clears the way for Republican gubernatorial candidates to run for the seat during the 2014 midterm election, without her complicating the field.
With Brewer on her way out, the 2014 race will be wide open for the first time since 2002, when Democrat Janet Napolitano went head to head with Republican Matt Salmon and independent Richard Mahoney.
Many of the GOP candidates have anticipated she would not try to challenge the state Constitution to run for another term but did not publicly count her out until she made an announcement.
Brewer, who completed the final year of Napolitano's term and then successfully ran for a four-year term in 2010, has talked publicly for about two years about seeking another term.
Such a decision would have required a legal challenge to the state Constitution. Arizona law permits statewide-elected officials to serve only two consecutive terms. Article 5, Section 1 of the Arizona Constitution states, "No member of the executive department after serving the maximum number of terms, which shall include any part of a term served, may serve in the same office until out of office for no less than one full term."
Brewer had said there is "ambiguity" in the Constitution, saying she does not read it as barring her from serving 2 1/4 terms, given that she completed the end of Napolitano's time in office.
Joe Kanefield, former general counsel to Brewer who is now in private practice, has said in the past the legal question centers on the definition of "term." He has said drafters were referring to a governor who was elected to a term and not to a governor who inherited the office by succession.
"I haven't ruled it out, and I've been encouraged by people — legal scholars and other people — that it's probably something that I ought to pursue," Brewer told The Arizona Republic in 2012.
Asked whether her discussion of running again is merely a tactic to stay relevant, Brewer responded, "Well, I've got a lot of people that can suggest a lot of things. It is what it is."