Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Top “Tossup” House Race for Progressives: Raul Grijalva

Norman Solomon

On Sunday, when the New York Times put a "tossup" label on three dozen House races with Democrats running for re-election, there were very few genuine progressives involved. In fact, just three of the lawmakers on the list are members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. And only one of them is a progressive standout: Raul Grijalva.

With a record of grassroots activism that goes back four decades, Grijalva is the real deal. Since 2003, his presence in Congress -- representing a heavily Latino district in Southern Arizona -- has been a force of nature for progressive advocacy on issues ranging from healthcare and education to war. And immigration.

Now, the forces of xenophobia and bogus "populism" think they smell blood.

Nowhere in the United States is political courage for progressive principles more on the line this Election Day than in the battle to re-elect Grijalva. http://www.grijalvaforcongress.com

Two years ago, he won with a 30 percent margin. This time, the race is very tight for reasons that have little to do with his Republican opponent, a 28-year-old rocket scientist named Ruth McClung.

"Democrats are facing tough races in what they once thought were safe areas around the country," the Los Angeles Times noted over the weekend, "but Grijalva faces an additional burden. He called for a boycott of his state after Gov. Jan Brewer signed a tough immigration law, known as SB 1070, in April."

Much more than "tough," that law -- now largely tied up in court -- is the essence of systematic racial profiling. In effect, it requires police to target Latinos. In response, Grijalva spoke up for human rights.

That's why many right-wing politicians and power brokers have poured several hundred thousand dollars into anti-Grijalva efforts.

Speaking about immigration in early summer, Grijalva said: "Demagogues in the Republican Party, and their Democratic allies, will say this is about amnesty and open borders. No matter how many times they repeat it, it won't be true. No one who understands the issue believes we can just dig trenches, point guns at the border and live in fear the rest of our lives. We need legal, social, economic and political reforms to truly make immigration work in this country, and we need them now."

Days ago, along Tucson streets, I saw McClung campaign signs that said "Boycott Grijalva, Not Arizona."

What's at stake in the campaign transcends any district or state. On the night of Nov. 2, the returns from the Seventh Congressional District of Arizona will be about human decency.

Last Saturday morning, at a rally in front of a Grijalva campaign headquarters in Tucson, the spirit was upbeat. Close to 200 volunteers were there, and despite the enthusiastic responses to speakers (who included Grijalva, his colleague Rep. Barbara Lee, Progressive Democrats of America chair Mimi Kennedy and myself) the crowd was clearly eager to move past the talk and go into action.

Before they fanned out to walk precincts, Grijalva told the assembled volunteers: "A human face to a human face -- talking, neighbor to neighbor -- is the most powerful grassroots tool that this campaign has or any other campaign has." For video of the rally, click here.
http://tucsoncitizen.com/in-the-aggregate/2010/10/24/grijalva-rally

Nationwide, for progressives assessing where to help in the final days of House races, the names of two other Democrats should also loom large: Alan Grayson and Bill Hedrick.

Grayson, an outspoken progressive from Florida, has enlivened the House of Representatives with his bold truth-telling. The New York Times says the race in his district is now "leaning Republican."

Hedrick, a teacher who came very close to winning a House seat two years ago, has deep and longstanding commitments to social justice. In a Southern California district that includes Riverside and Corona, he's running a notably thorough grassroots campaign against a corrupt and reactionary incumbent, Ken Calvert.

While weighing options in the stretch drive of a long election year, every progressive individual and group must come to terms with limited time and resources. Clear priorities are essential. Now, on the eve of an election when many candidates will sink under an onslaught from the far right, we should have a national vision -- and concentrate on saving the ones who most truly represent our values.

"We're in this fight because we want to be in this fight," Raul Grijalva said a few nights ago, at a Progressive Democrats of America gathering in Tucson. "Decency demands of us and of all of the people here that we fight on. . . . The values of this country are at stake."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

'Half-Measures Are No Longer Enough': Haaland Urged to Sign Order to Halt Extinction Crisis

"The United States can restore its position as a global leader in conservation and prevent many of these extinctions, but it must take swift action that matches the extent and scale of the problem."

Brett Wilkins ·


Despite Outcry, Japanese Prime Minister Urges Swift Release of Fukushima Wastewater Into Sea

South Korea has said the release of the radioactive wastewater poses a "grave threat" to marine life.

Julia Conley ·


Manchin Sparks Fury With Demands for Work Requirement, $60K Income Cap on Child Tax Credit

"Who besides a cartoon villain would ever think this is a good idea?"

Kenny Stancil ·


Colin Powell, Who Helped George W. Bush Lie Nation Into Iraq War, Dead at 84

"It's crucial to remember just how important Colin Powell was to selling the Iraq War, and how deliberately he used his public credibility to boost the lies that pushed us into the war. That is his biggest legacy."

Jon Queally ·


'Indefensible': US Billionaires Became $2.1 Trillion Richer in 19 Months of Pandemic

New analysis shows that just 745 individuals have combined $5 trillion in wealth—most of which will never be taxed—as nations reels from pain inflicted by Covid-19.

Jon Queally ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo