Arizona Legislator Confronts Republican Senator in Airport Over Brett Kavanaugh

The moment Senator David Perdue walked into the men's restroom to avoid Rep. Isela Blanc.
The moment Senator David Perdue walked into the men's restroom to avoid Rep. Isela Blanc. Screenshot/ YouTube

A Democratic Arizona lawmaker confronted a Republican U.S. Senator in Washington's D.C. Reagan National Airport on Monday over the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

In a video posted online, Arizona State Representative Isela Blanc of Tempe identifies herself and attempts to shake hands with Senator David Perdue of Georgia, who ignores her and two other activists as he walks briskly through the airport.

Perdue, accompanied by his wife, says nothing. At one point, he appears to warn Blanc not to touch him.

"I haven't touched you, sir," Blanc says.

"We're asking you to stand up for justice," Blanc tells him. "We are asking you to do the right thing."

Moments later, Perdue ducks into a men's bathroom to escape, as Blanc calls after him.

After the video cuts, Perdue is again seen walking away from Blanc as he attempts to get the attention of the police. Blanc and the activists continue to follow Perdue through the baggage claim area, talking to him and trying to get a response on the claims against Kavanaugh.

The senator eventually arrives at a black SUV in the parking garage and shuts the door.

In an interview on Tuesday, Blanc said that Perdue's response to the women was "shocking."

"He ran into the bathroom, called security, then was using security as a shield," Blanc told Phoenix New Times.

A progressive advocacy group, the Center for Popular Democracy, posted the video to social media on Monday and the other activists were soon identified as Patti Serrano and Popular Democracy co-executive director Jennifer Epps-Addison.

The Arizona lawmaker arrived in Washington D.C. on Friday morning with activists from the organization Living United for Change in Arizona (LUCHA). They had hoped to meet with Arizona Senator Jeff Flake to urge him to vote no on Kavanaugh, but were unable to secure a meeting with him.

Blanc said that she knew Serrano as a fellow Arizonan who volunteers for progressive causes – like Blanc, Serrano traveled to Washington with LUCHA. However, she had never met Epps-Addison prior to Monday.

Blanc did briefly speak with Senator Lindsay Graham of South Carolina in a hallway, another exchange that was captured on video. She told Graham that his outburst during the Kavanaugh hearing was "incredibly disappointing."

As Blanc waited at Reagan National Airport for her flight back to Arizona, she made a spur-of-the-moment decision to talk to Perdue. And although she was not worried about getting arrested herself, Blanc was concerned about the other activists – she thought that the police might try to find any reason to arrest them.

In retrospect, she wishes that Perdue would have responded authentically and listened.

"If he had just simply taken the time to acknowledge the presence of the two survivors of violence, it would’ve been a completely different interaction," Blanc said.
Blanc's a dedicated activist herself.

In March, Blanc was arrested during a protest to support Dreamers in Washington, D.C. Activists staged a sit-in at the National Mall to demand a legislative solution for undocumented immigrants in the wake of the Trump administration's decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court has become a highly charged fight in the Senate and a test for the #MeToo movement.

Two of his former classmates, Christine Blasey Ford and Deborah Ramirez, say that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted them. He has denied the accusations.

In a similar incident last week, two women cornered Flake in a congressional elevator after he announced that he would vote to confirm Kavanaugh in spite of sexual assault allegations against him. One of the women, Ana Maria Archila, is the co-executive director of Center for Popular Democracy, the same group that confronted Perdue.

Hours later, Flake reversed his stance and called for a limited FBI investigation into Kavanaugh.

Blanc said that she was appalled when she watched Kavanaugh's responses to the Judiciary Committee last week. His answers struck her as "very indignant" and "almost kind of abusive" in tone.

"He failed the interview process," Blanc said.

This article has been updated with comments from Representative Isela Blanc.
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Joseph Flaherty is a staff writer at New Times. Originally from Wisconsin, he is a graduate of Middlebury College and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.
Contact: Joseph Flaherty