Feathered Bastard

Steve Gallardo's SB 1070 Repeal: The Dems' New Litmus Test

When I saw the headline in the Arizona Republic, "Democrats plan to introduce legislation to repeal SB 1070," let's just say I smelled a fish, and fresh it was not.

The only Democrat I know of down at the state Legislature with the huevos to do something so bold as to seek the repeal of the state's breathing-while-brown-law is Senator Steve Gallardo.

So I knew before reading the article that Gallardo had to be behind the effort, as indeed he is. But "Democrats" with an "s" on the end?

During 2010, most mainstream Dems ran away from the issue, almost as far away as they ultimately ran from the successful recall of now ex-state Senate President Russell Pearce.

The party line, generally, was this: We opposed 1070 before it became law, but once it became law, aw, shucks, we just couldn't do a dang thing about it.

Never mind that the D's party base was, and is, ferociously opposed to 1070. Moreover, the base applauded when the feds successfully sued Arizona, scoring an injunction against the most egregious parts of the statute.

But Dems running for dog catcher and above in 2010? Mention 1070, and they bent over (forwards not backwards, natch) trying to prove how "tough" they were on illegal immigration. That, or they buried their craniums next to the nearest cacti, hoping the issue would evaporate.

I read a little lower in the Republic piece, and guess what? Supposedly Gallardo's big supporter on the repeal is none other than -- drum roll, please -- Democratic jellyfish David Lujan!

That's the guy who is now state Senator from Legislative District 15, thanks to recently-announced U.S. Congressional-candidate Kyrsten Sinema and her partner in Lujan-promotion, Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox

Man, that is one helluva stinky carp. 

Because we all know that as House minority leader in 2010, Lujan made sure he wasn't around when 1070 was voted on. Then he made lame and misleading excuses for his absence.

So I gave Gallardo a call. Gallardo, a fierce critic of Lujan, told me he backed former legislator Ken Clark for the LD 15 spot. 

He expressed surprise at Lujan's come-to-Jesus moment, and said he had not been working with him on the proposed repeal, which he plans to drop January 23 at the state Capitol.

He pointed to a Tweet, apparently sent out by the Republic, indicating that Wilcox was saying that Lujan had committed to introducing a 1070 repeal. He described it as a CYA move for both Wilcox and Lujan, motivated by the flap over Lujan's appointment.

"I have not had any discussions with Lujan," Gallardo stated emphatically. "I haven't talked to him about 1070. I haven't talked to Mary Rose about 1070. This is her way of saying, `Even though he walked out on 1070, he wants to do what he can to try and repeal it.'" 

He figures Wilcox had heard of his plans on 1070 and decided to do a little piggybacking. It had been in his "to-do" box, and he claims he's lined up some Dems willing to sign on. 

Will all of them sign on, including the minority leadership? He's not sure, but he plans to start putting his fellow Ds on the spot, and soon.

"I plan on going around to every office in the House and the Senate, asking them, `Where you at?'" Gallardo promised. 

Which gave me an idea. Being that this is an election year, with so many Dems tryin' to move on up the political ladder, let's ask ALL of them this question: 

Do you support the repeal of 1070, yes or no?

No explanations, excuses, or hemming and hawing allowed. Just answer the question, yea or nay. And if it's "nay," you might as well turn in your Donkey Kong card, and strap on a big, fat trunk. 

Because there's no doubt where Sand Land tuskers stand, as a whole, on the issue of 1070. 

Sure, there's the rare GOP rebel. But there's a reason why Gallado's proposed repeal is given nary a chance while a Republican supermajority still reins in the Legislature: In Arizona, most Republicans remain down on the brown.

Democrats should be the party of immigrants, the party of progressives, the party of inclusiveness. And Latinos, they're mostly Ds, so supporting 1070's eradication should be a piece of cake for Dems, as far as litmus tests go.

What if you're a blue-dog business Dem, or have a district that's a bit of a toss-up? How do you make the case for repeal?

Just ask those 60 CEOs who went against Pearce's anti-immigrant bills last year

Or ask conservative Republican Jerry Lewis, who argued against 1070 while challenging the state's most conservative politician in the state's most conservative legislative district.

But Democrats, in Arizona particularly, have a nasty yellow streak in 'em. 

Which is why the party's base needs to play Wizard of Oz to its pride of cowardly lions. By putting them all on the spot.

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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons