tags: Targeted Races

Mitchell (D-AZ-5)

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RESULT: Harry Mitchell (D) 53% – David Schweikert (R) 44% 

The Race:

First-term incumbent Congressman Harry Mitchell (D), a genial former mayor of Tempe, upset bombastic six-term Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R) in 2006. The 2008 Republican candidate, Maricopa County treasurer David Schweikert, was nominated with 30% of the vote in a six-way primary. [National Journal, accessed 9/22/08] Schweikert served a four-year tenure in the Legislature in the early 1990s. [East Valley Tribune, 7/27/08] Although the voter-enrollment numbers are favorable for the GOP, it might not be until late in the cycle that the party decides how closely it wants to contest this district. Mitchell has built up a lot of goodwill in the district through the years. According to news coverage of the AZ-5 Congressional race, immigration does not dominate the issues in the campaign, but it is receiving some attention. [RollCall.com – Election Map; DC’s Political Report – AZ; CQ Weekly, 4/27/08]

The Mitchell Position:

Harry Mitchell

COMPREHENSIVE REFORMER. During the 2006 campaign, immigration proved to be a contentious issue. Hayworth tried to cast his challenger as a supporter of “amnesty” – and Social Security benefits – for undocumented immigrants. Mitchell supported the Senate-passed comprehensive immigration reform bill, which would enhance enforcement and require undocumented workers to enroll in a legalization program or face deportation. [National Journal – 2006 New Member Profiles – Harry Mitchell] When the Senate reform bill died in June 2007, Mitchell said: “I am deeply disappointed that the Senate today let down the American people, who made clear last November that they are looking to Congress to end illegal immigration. At the very least, Congress owes the American people a vote on comprehensive immigration reform.” [Mitchell press release, 6/28/07] Around the same time, he also penned an opinion piece titled “Immigration Status Quo Unacceptable for Congress.” He praised the work of those senators trying to find compromise on the issue: “And while their final product was far from perfect, they tried to do what voters send them here to do get something done to fix the problem.” [Mitchell op-ed, Arizona Republic, 6/10/07]

The Schweikert Position:

David Schweikert

On his campaign website, Schweikert said, “My plan to STOP illegal immigration is simple: To secure the border against illegal immigration, trafficking, smuggling and incursions once and for all by: Finishing construction of the fence. Holding companies accountable for hiring illegals. Using high-tech surveillance to monitor the border by deploying additional Predator-B U.A.V’s. Hiring more border patrol agents and supplementing when necessary by placing National Guard troops on the border. Linking Homeland Security money to actual border security benchmarks. This begins by funding state law enforcement in amounts directly tied to the number of officers who become ICE certified.” His immigration position on his website goes on to state, “Finally, we must end sanctuary city policies. For some, illegal immigration is a political issue to use and try to gain political points. This is wrong. As your next Congressman, I will try to push through real solutions to the illegal immigration problem. It’s not about politics, it’s about making sure our border is secure and our state ceases to pay such a high cost for the problem of illegal immigration.” [David Schweikert for Congress, accessed 9/22/08] Schweikert received the endorsement of the Arizona Police Association, whose members include, “the Chandler Law Enforcement Association, Mesa Police Association, Tempe Officers Association, Deputies Law Enforcement Association, and National Border Patrol Supervisors Association.” A release from Schweikert’s campaign stated, “Because of David’s fight to limit liability for public safety professionals as victims of frivolous lawsuits and his strong stance on fighting the crime associated with illegal immigration, these law enforcement officers have strongly endorsed David Schweikert.” [David Schweikert Press Release, 7/31/08] According to the Arizona Capital Times, “The Schweikert campaign believes Mitchell’s voting record and stances on important issues such as energy, illegal immigration and raising taxes are out of line with the conservative majority of voters in the district.” [The Arizona Capital Times, 9/19/08]

Arizona 5th