PHOENIX — The latest comments by a Prescott Republican lawmaker about race, immigration and assimilation have cost him the committee chairmanship he sought for years.
Incoming House Speaker Rusty Bowers said Rep. David Stringer agreed Friday, at his request, to resign his committee chairmanship. That followed publication by Phoenix New Times of remarks Stringer made to students two weeks ago at Arizona State University. Stringer said assimilation doesn’t work with African-Americans and other racial groups “because they don’t melt in, they don’t blend in, they always look different.”
Stringer, questioned by students, also said he doesn’t know if the difference in appearance matters to him. But he said the “white flight” from some cities proves it matters to others.
He also said there is a “pretty significant burden” on Arizona taxpayers for having to teach English to students who come to school without that being their first language. He also said Hispanics vote Democratic because they want more immigration to bring “more of their co-religionists, their own people like them, into the country.”
“Rep. Stringer’s comments are vile and won’t be tolerated,” Bowers said Friday in a prepared statement.
Bowers said he gave Stringer, a former criminal defense attorney, the “critical assignment” as chair of a newly created Sentencing and Recidivism Reform Committee, a committee that Stringer asked the new speaker to create.
“These comments render him incapable of performing his duties as chair,” Bowers said.
Stringer did not immediately return calls and messages.
The latest comments come just months after Stringer drew attention for a speech to the Republican Men’s Forum in Prescott warning that immigration “represents an existential threat to the United States” and needs to be curtailed before the country is irrevocably altered.
Those June remarks resulted in a call for his resignation by state Republican Party Chairman Jonathan Lines, a call later endorsed by Republican Gov. Doug Ducey.
Since that time, Stringer was reelected by a healthy margin, getting more than twice as many votes as the lone Democrat in the race for the two seats from the district, though seatmate Noel Campbell, R-Prescott, outpolled him.
Bowers, newly elected as speaker, agreed last month to set up the formal standing committee on sentencing and recidivism. An aide to Bowers said plans are to retain the committee.
This time around there was no resignation call from Lines, but instead a slap.
“What we see from David Stringer is an unfortunate pattern of him putting his foot in his mouth with racist commentary, which can only be attributed to a perspective that is out of touch with reality,” the GOP chairman said in a statement.
But Ducey’s views that Stringer should resign have not changed, said his press aide, Patrick Ptak.
“As the governor has previously stated, this type of rhetoric should disqualify someone from serving in the Legislature,” Ptak said.
The Rev. Jarrett Maupin agreed after Stringer’s June remarks to set up a public meeting where Stringer could explain himself to members of the African-American community. But Maupin made it clear Friday he was not about to give the lawmaker another chance.
Maupin said if Stringer does not resign, House leaders should move to eject him “for acts of moral turpitude and demonstrated ethical bankruptcy.”
“Stringer’s demonstrated bigotry and racism is just as bad, if not worse, than the actions that have led to other members’ expulsions,” Maupin said.
The most recent ouster was of Rep. Don Shooter, R-Yuma, for sexual harassment of colleagues and others.
Maupin called Stringer“a premeditated xenophobe” with “mental illness.”