U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva has all the advantages in a congressional district where Democrats outnumber Republicans by a 2-1 ratio.
His bid for a fourth term in Congress got a lot easier when perpetual candidate Joe Sweeney won the Republican primary.
The Republican Party does not endorse Sweeney, a rabid opponent of illegal immigration who calls Interstate 19 between Tucson and Nogales a “Whore-i-dor” and who says illegal immigrants outnumber U.S. citizens in the 7th Congressional District.
He also complains on behalf of “Anglo-Saxon women who say they are discriminated against because they are not bilingual,” and derides Sen. Barack Obama as a “47-year-old mulatto.”
He also supports legislation that would make being gay a crime.
Sweeney says he’s just saying what other people think.
“What I say publicly is different from what I think privately,” Sweeney said. “Everybody has that part of the personality.”
Sweeney would pursue legislation that would round up and remove alleged illegal immigrants and favors public financing of political campaigns.
For his part, Grijalva sees the next two years as an effort toward stability.
“It’s all about stability,” Grijalva said. “Stability in government, the economy and society,” Grijalva said.
It’s not an easy leap for a proud liberal, who likes to shake things up.
“Knowing my political background, stability is a weird word but that’s where we are at,” Grijalva said.
Getting the economy on stable ground will be the first job of the next Congress, but education, energy and health care all must be addressed.
Immigration reform, education and the environment are the issues of specific concern to voters in the 7th District, Grijalva said.
Immigration reform must include a way to bring the 12 million people here illegally into the light and give them a path to citizenship, Grijalva said.
“It’s really the issue underlying all this when we talk about immigration,” Grijalva said.
It’s also the most contentious part of the immigration debate, with a sizable chunk of Congress refusing to accept a proposal that it considers amnesty.
In education, Washington should encourage more accountability, higher standards and more creativity. However, Grijalva has been a critic of federal standards that punish poor school districts for failing to achieve immediate turnaround.
“We have reached the tipping point when we encourage creativity and encourage risk,” Grijalva said. “I’m totally comfortable with accountability and standards. It’s the prescribed way to get there that bothers me.”
Grijalva also would work to reduce class size, protect teacher tenure and pay teachers more money if they acquire more skills.
“We made standards and accountability a bludgeon instead of a guide,” Grijalva said.
Grijalva chairs the subcommittee overseeing public lands, a key post for a western lawmaker.
He vows to protect the environment without exposing charges leveled against environmentalists in the 1990s, when bills written to control mining, ranching and logging led to a “War on the West” backlash.