Democratic Governors Nervous About Arizona Lawsuit,Tied in Knots

BOSTON — In a private meeting with White House officials this weekend, Democratic governors voiced deep anxiety about the Obama administration’s suit against Arizona’s new immigration law, worrying that it could cost a vulnerable Democratic Party in the fall elections.

“Universally the governors are saying, ‘We’ve got to talk about jobs,’ ” Gov. Phil Bredesen of Tennessee, a Democrat, said in an interview. “And all of a sudden we have immigration going on.”

He added, “It is such a toxic subject, such an important time for Democrats.”The Democrats’ meeting provided a window on tensions between the White House and states over the suit, which the Justice Department filed last week in federal court in Phoenix. Nineteen Democratic governors are either leaving office or seeking re-election this year, and Republicans see those seats as crucial to swaying the 2012 presidential race.

“I’d be willing to bet a lot of money that almost every state in America next January is going to see a bill similar to Arizona’s,” said Gov. Dave Heineman of Nebraska, a Republican seeking re-election.

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