New congressional district lines put the planned Rosemont copper mine right outside the edge of Rep. Raúl Grijalva's district - but put Grijalva in the middle of the poltical fight.
The new Congressional District 3 includes all of Santa Cruz County, and the county's northern boundary cuts across the Santa Rita Mountains near Madera Canyon, about 10 miles southwest of the proposed mine site.
Passionate supporters of the planned mine are making it a hot topic of the campaign, focusing on the jobs the project would create.
Grijalva said Friday that he is not against mining or against jobs, but he is against the Rosemont Mine plan.
He is the only candidate in his race to take that stance.
Republican candidates Gabriela Saucedo Mercer and Jaime Vasquez, and Democratic challengers Amanda Aguirre and Manny Arreguin all said they would support the mine because of the jobs it would create.
United Steelworkers Local 937 is planning a demonstration with picket signs and bullhorns at Grijalva's campaign headquarters this morning "to let Rep. Grijalva know that Arizona needs the jobs the Rosemont Mine can provide," according to a union Facebook posting.
Angel Morales, Local 937 financial secretary, said the union members "wanted to come together and try to convince Grijalva that he needs to get Rosemont going."
"We need these jobs and we want him to see our side of it," he said.
The event has been publicized by Rosemont and pro-business groups including the Southern Arizona Business Coalition.
"Congressman Grijalva needs to understand the importance of jobs" and "he needs to get out of the way" of Rosemont's plans, said Rick Grinnell, vice president of the Southern Arizona Business Coalition.
The union members and business supporters also plan to rally at the June 19 Pima County Board of Supervisors meeting, he said.
Grijalva said today's rally is "probably only the first volley in this election."
He said he is prepared for the mining industry lobby to make this election a referendum on the planned mine and to attack candidates who don't support it. "I understand they see me as an opponent," he said.
Grijlava campaign volunteers plan to campaign door-to-door in Tucson today.
"Rather than having a counter-protest, we feel it is far more important to answer the opposition by reaching out to our voters and informing them about Raúl's agenda for Arizona and our nation," said an email from A Whole Lot of People for Grijalva.
Grijalva said jobs are part of the Rosemont discussion, but so are environmental concerns including water and air quality. He said there would be a high cost to taxpayers for the cleanup of the mine when it closes.
The union recognized the environmental concerns, but focused on jobs.
"The USW is a strong supporter of the environmental permitting process because we live in these mining communities," United Steelworkers regional director Manuel Armenta said in a press release. "If we stand still and do nothing, the jobs will not be available for Arizona."
Grijalva said the mine would produce about 300 jobs that would last about 10 years, so the long-term economic benefit is unproven. Rosemont "isn't going to turn the economy around," he said.
Instead, he said, he would focus on the alternative and renewable energy industry, which he said has created more than 2,000 jobs in his district.
Grijalva acknowledged that work is scarce but said Rosemont supporters are taking advantage of people's emotions.
CD3 candidates on the Rosemont mine
For Rosemont Mine
Amanda Aguirre (D) - "The Hispanic community is very anxious to see the job creation this mine will bring to the area. …The company has done everything it can with technology to protect the environment."
Manny Arreguin (D) - He said he would support the mine, based on the need for jobs, and would critically examine the evidence that new technology makes the project safe for the environment.
Gabriela Saucedo Mercer (R) - "We desperately need good-paying jobs. The people in Pima County are losing their homes while the government is stopping the creation of jobs. That is unacceptable."
Jaime Vasquez (R) - "I'm 100 percent for the Rosemont Mine, and I'll do anything I can to help them if I'm elected." The area should promote responsible business, and Rosemont is doing its due diligence, he said.
Against Rosemont Mine
Raúl Grijalva (D) - Jobs are part of the Rosemont discussion, but so are environmental concerns, including water and air quality. There would be a high cleanup cost to taxpayers when the mine closes.
Contact reporter Becky Pallack at email@example.com or 573-4346.