So there’s this guy running for Congress in CD 7 as a Democrat who goes by the name of labor leader icon César Chávez (who died in 1993). He hopes to confuse voters, which just goes to show how little respect this guy has for the intelligence of voters in CD 7.
This guy used to be named Scott Fistler, and he has run for office before, as a Republican. Two reports today expose this fraud. The Arizona Capitol Times (subscription required) cuts to the heart of the matter, Two-time GOP loser changes party to Democrat, name to Cesar Chavez for new congressional bid:
Scott Fistler didn’t have much luck as a Republican candidate. He lost a 2012 write-in campaign against U.S. Rep. Ed Pastor, then lost a 2013 bid for a Phoenix city council seat now held by Laura Pastor, Ed’s daughter.
All that could change, though, just like Fistler’s name and party registration.
After petitioning a state superior court last November and paying $319, Fistler now legally shares the name of the celebrated labor movement icon, Cesar Chavez. Earlier this year, Chavez (formerly Fistler) became a Democrat, and – before Ed Pastor announced his retirement from Congress – filed to run in the heavily Hispanic 7th Congressional District.
[T]he iconic labor leader isn’t even the only Chavez whose name is being used by the local Chavez campaign. The Chavez for Congress website is covered in photos showing demonstrators rallying for Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
The name “Chavez” can be seen on balloons, signs and t-shirts of activists in the photos, which have mostly been lifted from Venezuelan news reports. They’re followed by captions like “Supporters: ‘We love you Chavez’” and “Sign: Vote for Chavez 2014.”
One 2006 photo shows a march celebrating Cesar Chavez (the labor leader) in downtown Wichita, Kansas, with the caption “Supporters: Ready to canvas the South Mountain neighborhood,” which is in south Phoenix.
“I think that’s really poor taste,” said Mary Rose Wilcox, a fellow Democrat who is also running to succeed Pastor in CD7.
“My husband and I grew up under the leadership of Cesar Chavez (the labor leader) and he means so much to our community,” Wilcox said. “Voters aren’t going to be fooled. If he thinks he can fool them, it’s a real affront to the community. He should be ashamed.”
Alejandro Chavez, the grandson of the famed labor leader, said he has come across people who try to use his grandfather’s name for personal gain before.
“The people who do carry on his legacy shine. Those who try to ride his coattails for a political agenda, it’s apparent. You just kind of have to brush it off,” Alejandro Chavez said. “If we spent out time going after this sort of thing, we wouldn’t have time to carry on his legacy through the Cesar Chavez Foundation, which provides real help to Latino families and farmers.”
But Chavez (formerly Fistler) may have to overcome more than just disparaging remarks from the family and friends of Chavez (the labor leader).
Because of the timing of his various state and federal campaign filings, as well as the timing of his party registration change, Chavez may have his candidacy challenged by the State Democratic Party, where top officials see him as anything but a legitimate candidate.
According to voter records, Chavez didn’t become a Democrat until April 28, even though he filed his congressional statement of candidacy with the Federal Election Commission in February. On the form, Chavez wrote “DEM” in the Candidate Party Affiliation field.
Arizona Democratic Party chairman DJ Quinlan said he and others at the Party have been looking into Chavez. He said someone claiming to represent the candidate has called the Party repeatedly, asking to have him listed on their website as a Democratic candidate in CD7.
“He’s either trying to make a mockery of the system, or of Democrats, or of the Hispanic community,” Quinlan said.
“There are two questions: Is it a problem for the FEC that he said he was a Democrat when he wasn’t?” Quinlan said. “And is it a problem for the state if he was collecting signatures to run in a Democratic primary while he was a Republican?”
Quinlan said the Party’s legal team is still reviewing the circumstances to determine whether a legal challenge will be brought.
The Arizona Republic did some ridiculous reporting on the theme of “What’s a familiar name worth in politics?” It takes some 34 paragraphs into the story before you get to the facts that The Capitol Times led with, Mystery congressional candidate has legendary name:
Last November, Scott Fistler filed a name-change petition with Maricopa County Superior Court. “I have experienced many hardships because of my name,” he wrote to the judge.
Before his court petition, Fistler had campaigned in the 7th Congressional District as a write-in in 2012, when he garnered 116 votes. Last summer he ran unsuccessfully for Phoenix City Council, telling The Republic he was a 33-year-old, unemployed, disabled veteran. The winner was Laura Pastor, the retiring congressman’s daughter.
Then, in November, with a judicial officer’s stamp, a couple of checked boxes and a notary, Scott Michael Fistler became Cesar Chavez.
The address Fistler listed on his council and court paperwork is the same as Chavez listed for Congress: an apartment in an aging complex in central Phoenix. Republic photos of Fistler, the council candidate, match the man who opens the apartment door as Chavez, the congressional candidate.
Chavez would not confirm that he changed his name, ducking the question repeated times.
“I feel right in everything I do. I never broke the law,” he said. Chavez implied he was trying to get away from harassment by changing his name.
A search of Phoenix police reports shows Fistler called officers between 2008 and 2013 about two threatening phone calls from anonymous callers and an attempted assault when a thumbtack was taped to his doorknob.
Chavez would not say whether he is Hispanic: “I like to look at people as Americans and citizens of the world.”
Supporters of Gallego and Wilcox view Chavez as little threat.
* * *
Alfredo Gutierrez, who organized workers with Chavez, chuckled at the candidate’s audacity. “It’s going to become one of the biggest jokes in our community,” he said.
Longtime Valley political consultant Mario Diaz was more peeved that an honored leader’s name was taken for political gain.
“I would advise him to change his name to Ronald McDonald because it has universal appeal,” he said. “It’s a comedic episode of the election in District 7. It’s a sideshow. He does have a right to declare himself under any legal name he may have, but in the bigger picture, names alone do not win elections.”
Chavez will know by June 11, when the window to challenge nominating petitions closes, whether he will be on the ballot.
This guy may want to think about moving to another city in another state after pulling a scam like this. Or maybe he should change his name again.