Guest Opinion: Has Raul Grijalva Finally Met His Match?

By Andy Kirchoff

It’s time for another round of America’s favorite political quiz game, “Who’s that Politician?”

Blanca GuerraFor 100 points and a trip to Arizona: “This Grand Canyon State resident was one of 31 congressmen to vote to refuse to certify Ohio election results in 2004, and in 2008 was rated the most liberal congressman in the country by the National Journal. He even co-chairs the House Progressive Caucus with Congressman Keith Ellison (D-MN).”

The correct answer is Rep. Raul Grijalva (minus 100 point for anyone who answered Gabrielle Giffords. She’s far more moderate in both her politics and persona). In spite of this deeply liberal worldview (and voting record to match), he has handily won re-election in his D+6 District since his first foray into Congress back in 2002. There are various reasons for his electoral success. I would speculate that part of his success is simply due to his visible contrast to the rest of the Arizona political class. In a political climate defined by the politics of immigration restriction, Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) is an anomaly. Rather than embrace the “stand with Arizona” motto of the tea party, he opted to organize a “big-business” boycott of the very state he represents in Congress. When SB1070 author and now former State Senator Russell Pearce (R-AZ) was pandering to neonazis and racists, Grijalva was organizing for the pro-reconquista group MEChA. If nothing else, Grijalva has been the voice of the disaffected fringe left of Arizona – such political posturing is bound to attract some political support, even as it alienates other potential allies.

A more likely (admittedly partial) explanation of Grijalva’s political success is his strong support from Veteran’s Groups. His record on veteran’s issues is indeed very commendable; he’s filed and/or supported many bills on behalf of Veterans over the years, including the popular REVAMP Act, a bill designed to repair crumbling Veteran’s facilities. Certainly, focusing constituent services on veteran’s assistance is a praiseworthy trait. Alas, “one-issue” voters do not a Republic make, and Grijalva’s attention to this issue can’t conceal his far left-of-center beliefs on other issues.

Enter Blanca Guerra, Arizona co-leader of Café Con Leche Republicans. She’s pro-immigration reform, but doesn’t embrace Rep. Grijalva’s economic extremism. She’s socially conservative with private sector experience and business acumen. She’s even able to neutralize Grijalva’s pro-veteran bona fides, as Blanca is a veteran of the United States Air Force. Grijalva’s renown and the overall partisan nature of the 7th CD will certainly be difficult to overcome. Nonetheless, Grijalva’s intemperate and ill-fated response to SB1070, when combined with his virulently left-wing ideology, could allow a Republican the opportunity to oust him from his seat. Needless to say, we’re very proud of Blanca here at CCLR, and we’d love nothing more than to see Blanca’s campaign send shockwaves throughout the Arizona political establishment. Here’s your chance, Arizona GOPers: let’s give Blanca the support she needs to win this thing!