Everyone, it seems, is calling on state Rep. David Stringer of Prescott to resign because of the many racist and anti-immigrant comments he has made.
The Arizona GOP, Gov. Doug Ducey, the Yavapai County GOP, the Prescott City Council — all have called on Stringer, a Republican, to resign. Of course, the Democrats have, too.
He shouldn’t, though.
By all appearances, Stringer views the country primarily through a racial lens. He can’t imagine that what is good about the United States will remain good if the proportion of white people continues to decline. It’s a pessimistic view of immigration and race that I argued against in a column published in June, when his views first became widely known.
At that time he was recorded explaining his perspective to the Yavapai County Republican Men’s Forum this way: “Immigration today represents an existential threat to the United States. If we don’t do something about immigration very, very soon, the demographics of the country will be irrevocably changed, and we will not be the country you were born into.”
That prompted many people, including Arizona GOP Chairman Jonathan Lines, to ask for Stringer’s resignation in June. At minimum, they were hoping he would no longer run for re-election. But it was far from the first time Stringer expressed his racially charged, pessimistic view of the country’s ability to thrive as a deeply multi-racial nation.
“The United States may be the first nation in history to voluntarily surrender its traditional culture and national identity to other peoples. We are only beginning to experience the consequences,” Stringer wrote in an October 2017 opinion piece published in the Prescott News, an outlet he co-owns.
His racism is not limited to non-European immigrants, either, as he made clear in comments at ASU obtained and published by the Phoenix New Times, which started the latest round of criticism against Stringer.
After a class Stringer attended at ASU last month, students were discussing his views on race, and Stringer expounded on the oft-heard claim that immigrants don’t assimilate like they did in the old days, when Polish kids and Irish kids became Americans without distinction in a generation or two.
“That’s not the case with African-Americans and other racial groups because they don’t melt in,” Stringer said. “They don’t blend in. They always look different.”
You have to wonder what world Stringer has been living in, because it’s not the one I see around Tucson or in most places I go these days. People of different backgrounds work together, do business together, become friends, marry. The country is also full of friction, divisions not just of race and ethnicity but also class, education and geography. It’s a mixed-up country that we make work despite our many differences.
But it’s clearly not a country that Legislative District 1 voters are comfortable with. That’s apparent because Republicans knew David Stringer’s views on race and American identity when they gave him the victory in a three-way primary in August. Incumbent Republican Noel Campbell took first with 42.5 percent of the vote; Stringer took second with 36.9 percent, and Prescott Valley town council woman Jodi Rooney took third with 20.6 percent.
Then, in the general election, Stringer took second place to Campbell again, winning re-election by demolishing the Democratic challengers. At 67,023 votes, Stringer more than doubled the votes of his nearest Democratic challenger, Jan Manolis, who got 32,706 votes.
The election shows that Stringer is who Legislative District 1 voters want, despite or —more likely — because of his views on race and immigration. This is, after all, in the congressional district that just re-elected Paul Gosar, who has a similar history of anti-immigrant rhetoric. It’s also an area that enthusiastically supports President Trump, whose policies and views on immigration aren’t that different.
Remember Trump’s comment in January that “we should have more people from Norway” than people from “shithole countries”?
So, Legislative District 1 voters deserve to have their favorite racist in the Legislature. But the Legislature doesn’t have to make it comfortable for him. Leaders can strip him of all but his most basic power, his vote. And they should.
The rest we should leave up to the racist-supporting voters of Legislative District 1. Stringer’s stink is on them. If they want to rid themselves of it, they should recall him.
McSally lost CD2
It was conventional wisdom before the November election that Rep. Martha McSally would have an easier time winning a statewide race for U.S. Senate than re-election in her home congressional district, here in Southern Arizona.
Apparently that was true. In the U.S. Senate race, Democrat Kyrsten Sinema took 52.6 percent to McSally’s 45.2 percent among votes cast in the district McSally represents.
The district covers the eastern half of the Tucson metro area and all of Cochise County. Among Pima County voters, Sinema won 56.7 percent to McSally’s 41.1 percent. Cochise County voters favored McSally by 59.2 percent to Sinema’s 38.2 percent.
Democrats targeted the district because it was one of the few where Hillary Clinton had won that was represented by a Republican member of Congress.
Kirkpatrick hires rival
Billy Kovacs impressed Democrats enough in a losing run for the U.S. House to get a job with the woman who eventually took the seat, Ann Kirkpatrick.
Kovacs took fifth place in a seven-person race for the Democratic nomination in Congressional District 2. After that loss, he became policy director for David Garcia’s gubernatorial campaign.
Now that Garcia has lost, Kirkpatrick is hiring Kovacs, who impressed some rivals with his political skill, as outreach director for her office.