On Aug. 26, Democratic voters in Arizona will choose a successor to 7th Congressional District Rep. Ed Pastor. It’s a safe, blue seat, covering the most liberal parts of Phoenix and Glendale. And it’s heavily Hispanic. That’s what led a Republican trickster named Scott Fistler to pay $319 to legally change his name, to “Cesar Chavez,” and attempt to get on the ballot. It was difficult to overstate the chintziness of the move. On his website (now offline), Fistler posted pictures of mobs of people marching in “Chavez” shirts—he took them from rallies for the late Venezeulan President Hugo Chavez. When I was in Phoenix last week, it was widely understood that Fistler would face challenges to his ballot petitions. In interviews, he’s responded to the challenges by saying “the Cesar Chavez train is smoking and it’s not going to stop until the election” and “my campaign is too legit to quit.” So we’re not talking about a serious person. Here’s where the story veers into pure derp. Ready? OK.
Fistler’s “Hispanic” name potentially posed a challenge for 34-year-old former state Rep. Ruben Gallego, the first candidate who entered the race to replace Pastor. An Iraq war veteran and former state House minority whip, Gallego had built a significant power base in the district. In 2013, his wife, Kate—who’s not Hispanic, but took his name, obviously—won a seat on the city council. The point is that having a Hispanic name doesn’t hurt in a district that’s largely Hispanic.
But Gallego’s biggest challenge (according to polls) comes from Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox. She’s Hispanic, actually, born Mary Rose Garrido in 1949, and she’s endorsed by the retiring Pastor.*