U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva is still doing OK as he quarantines in Washington, D.C., following a positive test for COVID-19.
On Monday, Grijalva said he was asymptomatic at the time, but on Thursday he said he had a runny nose, and his staff said Grijalva was tired.
All in all, not bad news for a 72-year-old with an off-and-on smoking habit.
His positive test, announced Saturday, unleashed a testy back-and-forth with the Interior Department related to a hearings Grijalva held as chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee.
That may be the place where he acquired the virus, because a colleague present at the July 28 hearing, U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, later tested positive.
On Sunday, a reporter from E&E News asked a spokesman for the Interior Department, Benjamin Goldey, whether the Secretary of the Interior regretted pushing Grijalva to return from Arizona to Washington, D.C., in an early June tweet.
Goldey responded: “We wish Chairman Grijalva a speedy recovery. He’s paid a lot of money by the American people to be an elected official — a job he sought and was entrusted to uphold — and showing up for work like millions of other dedicated public servants, such as our law enforcement officers and firefighters, is true leadership.”
Grijalva responded with this statement: “As an elected official, I took an oath to protect the American people and that includes their health and well-being. Obviously the Trump Administration doesn’t share my concern as their policies continually fail to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in our communities. I will continue to serve my constituents remotely while I recover from COVID-19 and keep those around me safe — something the Trump Administration seems to be incapable of.”
The hostility between Grijalva and the department has been longstanding, since Grijalva became chair of the committee that oversees the department after the 2018 election. It became sharper after an incident June 1 in which U.S. Park Police helped clear Lafayette Park of protesters, using tear gas and batons. President Trump then walked across the newly cleared park to stand in front of a church with a Bible in his hand.
Grijalva held a hearing on the incident June 29.
He was present in D.C. for that, but returned to Tucson. He pursued a second hearing, intended to question Park Police officials.
“We couldn’t do it by proxy because the secretary of interior said that they wouldn’t go to the hearing unless I was there in person,” Grijalva said. “After a while I said, ‘OK fine, let’s do this.’”
It wasn’t the only reason Grijalva returned to D.C. on July 18, but it was one of them, he said. And he knows he caught the virus in D.C. or while traveling there because he took a test before leaving Tucson.
McSally, Kelly start debate over debates
Let the great debate on debates begin.
Just hours after she trounced her opponent in Tuesday’s Republican primary, Sen. Martha McSally challenged Democratic challenger Mark Kelly to a series of seven debates starting in September.
At the same time, the McSally campaign launched a social media blitz “highlighting why Mark Kelly will avoid debates.”
“Now, more than ever before, it is important that Arizonans hear directly from the candidates running to represent them in the Senate,” said McSally in a written statement. “Unfortunately, my opponent has largely refused to take hard questions and tell voters where he stands on the important issues that affect them.”
She went on to label Kelly as “another Trojan horse” for the Democrats’ most radical policies.
In response Wednesday, the Kelly camp said he has committed to two debates — one set to be hosted by the Arizona Republic and other media outlets on Oct. 6 and one by Univision — and accused McSally of ducking her opponents in the past.
“In 2018, Senator McSally did everything she could to avoid an Arizona debate, and this year she refused to debate her primary opponent,” said Kelly campaign manager Jen Cox in a statement. “Mark looks forward to debating Senator McSally, ensuring Arizonans know about her record of voting to gut protections for pre-existing conditions, and demonstrating Mark’s science-based, independent approach to slow the spread of the virus and rebuild our economy for the future.”
Pence set to visit Tucson next week
Vice President Mike Pence will travel to Tucson next week to accept the endorsement of the Arizona Police Association, which offered its support for the reelection of President Trump, saying “the choice in this election could not be clearer.”
Pence’s visit to Tucson is part of a two-city trip to Arizona on Tuesday, Aug. 11. He is also scheduled to participate in the Latter-day Saints for Trump Coalition rollout in Mesa later in the day before returning to Washington, D.C.
In Tucson, Pence will “deliver remarks reinforcing the Trump administration’s continued support of the men and women serving in law enforcement and their unwavering commitment to never defund the police,” according to a press release.
The speech will be given in front of the Arizona Association of Police, which represents 47 member agencies, including the Tucson Police Officers Association, Pima County Sheriff’s Commanders Association and Pima County Probation Officers Association, announced its endorsement of Trump over Joe Biden, the former Vice President and presumptive Democratic nominee.
Arizona Democratic Party spokesman Matt Grodsky labeled the visit, as well as a reported “tele-rally” with supporters on Tuesday, as “cheap political stunts.”