Minuteman Founder Simcox to Challenge Arizona Senator John McCain

Jim Small, Arizona Capitol Times (Phoenix), April 24, 2009

Minuteman Project co-founder Chris Simcox is gearing up to challenge Arizona’s senior senator next year, saying John McCain has lost touch with everyday Arizonans and has abandoned the conservative values he claims to represent.

Simcox has gained national notoriety for his activism on border security issues. In 2005, he and Jim Gilchrist started the Minuteman Project, which organized citizens to monitor the country’s Southern border in order to stem the flow of illegal immigrants. He later split with that group and formed the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps.

Illegal immigration will be one of the central themes of Simcox’s campaign against McCain, who in 2006 spearheaded an effort to reform immigration laws that was panned by critics as ‘amnesty’ for illegal immigrants currently in the country.

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But top aides for Simcox’s campaign say he is not a single-issue candidate and will show voters he is a conservative Republican on all planks of the party’s platform.

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He was critical of McCain for his attempts to reform federal immigration laws, for sponsoring campaign finance laws that restrict certain donations to candidates and for his efforts to limit sales of firearms at gun shows.

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But Simcox’s campaign manager, Robert Kiley, said fundraising won’t be a problem, given Simcox’s national profile because of his work with the Minuteman Project.

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Simcox said during his announcement that he has already started getting donations from across the country through his Web site.

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Wary of a challenge in 2010, McCain has stockpiled $3.6 million in his campaign account for 2010, as of the end of March, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission. He raised $380,000 in the first quarter of the year. E-mails and calls to McCain officials were not returned.

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