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TPM: Because of SB 1070 Fallout, Arizona “Really is a Swing State in 2012”

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sb 1070 arizonaTalking Point Memo’s Evan McMorris-Santoro reports on how SB 1070 has changed the political landscape in Arizona — and not in the way its sponsors would have expected:

The rumors are true, Rep. Chad Campbell, the Democratic leader of the Arizona state House, told TPM Wednesday: the state best known for Sheriff Joe Arpaio and the toughest immigration law in the land really is a swing state in 2012. And Democrats have SB 1070 to thank for it.

“I’d hesitate to say it was ever good that it was passed,” Campbell said in a sitdown interview. “Because of the damage it did to the community, damage to the economy. But I do think it motivated a lot of people, especially people in the Latino community, to get involved and it energized them.”

“If that’s the final outcome of it, so be it,” he added. “That’s a good thing, obviously.”

Campbell’s not the only one saying that. The Obama campaign has said Arizona can be a target next year, thanks largely to a fired up Latino base. It wasn’t supposed to be that way — Republicans in Arizona and nationally were eager for a fight with the White House over 1070, which has involved the Justice Department sweeping into Arizona to stop the law. That’s the exact sort of thing the tea party types and conservatives who helped push 1070 through hate the most, and there was a belief that by taking immigration into their own hands in the states, Republicans could show Obama as ineffective on the issue and take states like Arizona off the map.

Rep. Campbell offered the numbers to back up the assertion:

He pointed to record-high turnout in municipal elections like the Phoenix mayoral race which put Democrats in office across the state this month. Those results were fueled in part by huge turnout numbers from the Latino demographic, Campbell said, and in part by a more moderate base that’s had enough.

Not to mention, last week’s defeat of State Senate President Russell Pearce in the Arizona recall election is another shining example of how voters are fed-up with politicians who use immigration as a distraction.