The one-time Arizona Republican, Scott Fistler, has generated a lot of buzz recently over his new name, Cesar Chavez, and his new Democratic Party affiliation. But Arizona Dems aren’t exactly rolling out the welcome mat for Chavez,, who legally changed his name in 2013.
Shasta McManus is the executive director of the Pima County Democratic Party, and she says that his new identity won’t help.
“It’s a guy who has lost twice already running as a Republican in the same area … He didn’t lose because his name was Fistler, and he didn’t lose because he was a Republican. He lost because he was out of touch with the district,” McManus told Fox News Latino.
In 2012, Fistler ran as a write-in Republican candidate for the U.S. Congress from the Seventh District. He lost to Ed Pastor. The following year, he ran for a seat on the Phoenix City Council. He lost that election to Pastor’s daughter, Laura.
Some political analysts argue that the Fistler-Chavez name change is a ploy to win over his district’s Hispanic community, which accounts for 56 percent of the population.
Chavez told the Arizona Republic, “People want a name that they can feel comfortable with.”
But McManus believes the name-change is more of an insult than an enticement.
“It’s incredibly offensive on the sheer fact that he thinks that voters are that uninformed or that ignorant. Cesar Chavez was an iconic labor leader in the Latino community. And for him to choose any name – but that name ... It really says exactly what he thinks of the voters in that district,” said McManus.
FNL reached out to the candidate for comment, via email and phone, but did not get a response yet.
Cesar Chavez – the labor figure – founded the National Farm Workers Association in 1962, which later became United Farm Workers. As a labor leader, Chavez championed for better treatment, pay and working conditions for field workers and is largely considered a hero in the Hispanic community. He died in 1993 in San Luis, Ariz.
Name changes aren’t new in the world of politics. The 38th president of the United States changed his name from Leslie King, Jr. to Gerald Ford in 1935. But McManus pointed out that this is more than a simple name change – this is cultural appropriation.
“Normally it’s going by your middle name … or after you’re married, hyphenating your name. But to completely take on something that has nothing to do with you or what you stand for or your positions … that’s crossing a line,” said McManus. "That’s a line I hope we don’t see crossed again."
The road to victory will be a tough one for Chavez. He will face stiff competition in the August primary.
“We have two democrats running in that district already. We have Mary Rose Wilcox and Ruben Gallego. And they have been working for years in that district. They’ve been elected to office and they’ve served their community well,” McManus told FNL.