PHOENIX — The head of the Arizona Republican Party is calling on Rep. David Stringer to resign, citing his comments on immigrants and immigration.
And others, including Republican Gov. Doug Ducey, are following suit.
State GOP chairman Jonathan Lines said Thursday he had read news reports about what Stringer said, including what showed up in a video of his speech earlier this week to the Republican Men’s Club in Prescott and more extensive comments in an interview with Capitol Media Services.
Among the things Stringer said: Immigration represents “an existential threat to the United States; America’s “melting pot” exists for “people of European descent”; and immigrants from south of the border don’t assimilate because they maintain connections with their home countries.
Stringer also said the fact that there are more minorities than Anglos in Arizona public schools has made integration nearly impossible because “there aren’t enough white kids to go around.”
The first-term Prescott lawmaker told Capitol Media Services he was simply informing his audience members that they need to recognize changes are occurring in the United States because of immigration. “I’m telling them, ‘You need to be prepared for this,’” Stringer said.
Shortly after Lines took the lead, Daniel Scarpinato, press aide to the governor, said Ducey agrees with the party chairman’s call for Stringer to resign.
Glenn Hamer, president of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, then said Stringer’s comments “are those of someone morally unfit for public office.” Hamer said he found the remarks “personally offensive,” pointing out he is married to an immigrant from Israel.
“Immigrants make our country stronger and more prosperous,” Hamer said. “His views are the polar opposite of the welcoming culture of Arizona.”
Hamer said, he, too, believes Stringer should quit.
“If he doesn’t, I expect that voters will hold him accountable in August,” he said.
But House Speaker J.D. Mesnard, R-Chandler, would not go that far, saying Stringer’s legislative future “will be up to him and the voters of District 1.”
Stringer did not return repeated messages seeking a response to the comments.
But in a Facebook post, he defended his comments and showed no sign of backing down — or quitting.
“My political opponents have taken 51 seconds out of a 16-minute speech to try to distort my message and mislead voters,” he wrote. Stringer said he remains convinced “Arizona and our country as a whole are in the throes of rapid demographic change,” which presents challenges “because of the strain it places on important institutions of our society including schools, prisons and our health care system.”
“This issue cries out for honest and open public discussion,” Stringer wrote. “Regrettably, my political opponents seek to shut down discussion with name calling and vile accusations.”
Mesnard did abolish a special new study committee on criminal-justice reform, which he had named Stringer to chair. Stringer wanted to work with Rep. Kirsten Engel, D-Tucson, to look at things like mandatory sentencing.
Stringer drew a link, saying he is under attack for being “a conservative Republican who is championing criminal-justice reform in the face of political threats and challenges from powerful elements and politicians in my own party.”