Arizona poised to rout Republicans

TUCSON, Ariz. — In spite of last week’s U.S. Supreme Court decision that cleared the way for Arizona to require voters to show identification before casting a ballot, public opinion polls show several incumbent right-wing congressmen in deep trouble.

In Arizona’s 8th Congressional District, in a race for a seat vacated by the retirement of Republican Jim Kolbe, Democrat Gabrielle Giffords is way ahead of Republican Randy Graf. Graf, who is the darling of the anti-immigrant militias, is so far to the right that he has been repudiated by many Republicans, including Kolbe. However, he has been endorsed by Arizona Sen. John McCain, who sometimes tries to pose as a moderate. Giffords, who began her campaign last spring refusing to call for withdrawal from Iraq, has gradually shifted her position and is now calling for ending the occupation by the end of 2007.

In northern Arizona’s 1st CD, which includes most of the Navajo Nation, progressive ACLU attorney Ellen Simon is leading incumbent Rick Renzi in the latest polls. Renzi has been described as one of the most corrupt members of Congress. Simon has the support of labor, the Sierra Club, Emily’s List and Navajo elected officials. She is calling health care a “right” and demanding an immediate end to the war on Iraq. Simon minces no words, describing Renzi as “a tool of big business interests, supporting gas, oil and pharmaceuticals over the average person.”

In Phoenix’s East Valley suburbs another Democrat, Harry Mitchell, is in dead heat with Christian-right Rep. J.D. Hayworth. Hayworth is so right-wing that when he first ran for Congress in 1992, former Republican Sen. Barry Goldwater called for his defeat. Mitchell, who is a former state senator and mayor of Tempe, is not running a particularly progressive campaign, concentrating instead on Hayworth’s vile record in Congress. A stronger stand against the unpopular war in Iraq might be enough to ensure a Mitchell victory, analysts say.

In an unsigned opinion on requiring voters to show ID, the Supreme Court reversed a ruling by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that had blocked the Arizona law from taking effect this year. At least half of Arizona voters are expected to vote by mail and will not be affected.