The most conservative wing of the Republican Party in Arizona continues to be one of the main engines of the state's policy and that will not change with the departure from the political stage of Gov. Jan Brewer, activists says.

"Although Brewer will no longer be governor, we have a conservative sector that will try to continue with the same rhetoric," the cofounder of the Citizens for a Better Arizona group, Randy Parraz, told Efe on Thursday.

Brewer announced on Wednesday that she will not seek reelection.

"Unfortunately, we see a stepped-up influence of the Tea Party among the candidates who up to now have come forward within the Republican Party," Parraz said.

Up to now, nine Republican candidates for governor have emerged, including state Sen. Al Melvin, one of the main proponents of a bill - vetoed by Brewer - that would have authorized businesses to refuse to serve homosexuals if that ran counter to the owners' religious beliefs.

Also stepping into the gubernatorial race has been disbarred former Maricopa County prosecutor Andrew Thomas, who was a key force in getting many undocumented foreigners arrested and brought to trial under the state's anti-trafficking law.

Another possible candidate could be state Sen. Steve Pierce, known for promoting severe bills against undocumented migrants.

Therefore, Parraz feels that the Hispanic vote has acquired greater importance in this traditionally Republican state.

He recalled that living in the state are more than 600,000 Hispanics who are eligible to vote.

Brewer will be remembered for implementing state law SB 1070, with its controversial "show me your papers" provision.

For that reason, for immigrants like Jose Martinez the news that Brewer will cease to be governor in the coming months filled him with joy.

"I hope that the governor's departure will be the start of a more positive change for our community, that the politicians take into account the contributions we immigrants make," Martinez, who currently is fighting to halt the deportation of one of his daughters, told Efe. 

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