Illegal Immigration Politics in Arizona


Carolyn Lochhead, an SF Chronicle reporter working out of DC and a Reason contributing editor, calls in a story from Arizona, where anti-illegal-immigration sentiment is high but not working any mojo for the Republicans there:

With Tuesday's election days away, in districts where illegal immigration is Topic A, Republican hardliners are the candidates in trouble here. As many as three GOP House seats are in jeopardy, including that of six-term incumbent J.D. Hayworth, whose race has slid from shoo-in to toss-up.

The fire-breathing Hayworth, a staple of conservative talk shows and author of the border-security tract "Whatever It Takes" (Chapter One: "Overrun"), is in the battle of his career for the Phoenix suburbs against mild-mannered Democrat Harry Mitchell, an avuncular former mayor of Tempe who supports a guest worker program and a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants already in the country.

In Tucson (Pima County), the open-seat district that spans the nation's busiest corridor for immigrants and drug trafficking, card-carrying Minuteman Randy Graf is expected to lose to pro-guest-worker Democrat Gabrielle Giffords.

Two-term Republican Sen. Jon Kyl, a key opponent of the Senate's expansive immigration bill, is blanketing the airwaves with anti-amnesty ads as the challenger Jim Pederson's poll numbers show him trailing by only single digits.

Even GOP Rep. Rick Renzi, a presumed safe incumbent who employs "red-zone defense" football metaphors on immigration, has a race on his hands, said Fred Solop, a political scientist at Northern Arizona University's Social Research Laboratory.

Why ain't it working? The short answer is that the Dems' are super anti-illegal in Arizona, too, though they've been stressing, a la John McCain, some sort of guest-worker legalization route. The long answer? Read it here.