U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva expected to face a Republican opponent he could take on with a platform of national issues such as the economy and the war in Iraq.
What he got is an opponent he doesn’t even plan to engage in his bid for a second term in Congress.
When perennial candidate Joe Sweeney scored a lopsided victory over political newcomer Lou Muñoz in the Republican primary for Congressional District 7, he presented Grijalva with a challenge he’d rather just sidestep.
“We don’t want to give him a forum for his diatribes, which are inherently racist, inherently anti-immigrant, inherently anti-women, inherently anti-gay,” Grijalva said. “We thought about it and we’re not going to give him an audience. We’re going to ignore him.”
Sweeney said his goal is to “represent the citizen taxpayers” and not a narrow group of people he believes Grijalva represents.
“I’m not interested in Chicanos or Hispanics. I’m not going to represent illegal immigrants. I’m not into the gay community. I’m going to represent 80 percent of the people, not 20 percent of the people,” he said.
Grijalva argues that Sweeney’s ideology represents a “fringe element” of the Republican Party.
“Joe Sweeney doesn’t represent the Republican Party,” Muñoz said, still stunned from his 40-percentage-point loss.
U.S. Congressional District 7 Republicans
Joe Sweeney 10,970, 70.4%
Lou Muñoz 4,602, 29.6%