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11/10: In Arizona, Minutemen lost more than House hopeful on Election Day
Released 01 December 2006  By Ernesto Portillo Jr. - Arizona Daily Star

In Arizona, Minutemen lost more than House hopeful on Election Day

By Ernesto Portillo Jr. Arizona Daily Star
Tucson, Arizona 11.10.2006

Randy Graf and the Republicans were not the only ones to get a thumping in
Tuesday's election. The Minutemen were thumped, too.

Despite the Minutemen's all-out effort to get Republican Graf into the
congressional seat vacated by fellow Republican Jim Kolbe, their man lost
his bid - in a Republican-dominated district - to Democrat Gabrielle
Giffords.

And if losing weren't enough, Graf, who publicly aligned himself with the
Minutemen, failed to carry Cochise County, where the Minutemen have been
very active on the border ranches. The Minuteman organization, born in
Tombstone more than a year ago, has worked hard to make illegal immigration
a national political issue.

Volunteers have come to the border as self-appointed guardians and have
started building a fence on private property. Their patrols and acts have
garnered lots of media attention, but the group's effectiveness is
questionable.

The Minutemen harangued the Republican Party to use illegal immigration to
hammer Democrats, but it went sideways - the Republicans lost control of
Congress and several high-profile candidates supported by the Minutemen
lost.

In addition to Graf's loss, Phoenix-area Republican Congressman J.D.
Hayworth, who authored a book bashing illegal immigrants, will know whether
he lost his re-election bid when uncounted ballots are counted.

And closer to home in state Legislative District 26, which covers much of
the Northwest Side, Republican David A. Jorgenson lost a bid for one of two
seats. Jorgenson, one of three candidates, listed the Minutemen as his
community-service work.

While many Minuteman-endorsed candidates in other states won their races,
some of the key losses included Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, and Reps.
Charlie Bass in New Hampshire, John Sweeney in New York and Charles Taylor
in North Carolina. All were endorsed by the Minutemen.

Chris Simcox, head of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, disagreed that the
organization suffered a blow from Graf's loss. "The Republican Party threw
him under the bus and abandoned him," Simcox said Thursday. The war cost
Graf the election, he added.

Simcox suggested that Graf, who lost to Giffords by about 12 percentage
points, would have lost more had the Minutemen not supported him. That might
be true. But what is clearly false is the Minutemen's contention that
illegal immigration is the country's No. 1 issue. National exit polls showed
voters were more concerned about the war than illegal immigration. And even
among those voters who were concerned about illegal immigration, many prefer
a comprehensive reform plan to a border fence.

The election bore that out.

Graf's loss was a surprise only to his strongest supporters. Political
experts predicted Graf, with his Minuteman background and his position as a
single-issue candidate, would not sell in a moderate Republican district,
which stretches from Tucson's Northwest and East sides to Green Valley and
Cochise County. He needed only to look at a special 2005 congressional
election in California. Minuteman co-founder Jim Gilchrist came in last in a
three-person race in conservative Orange County.

The Minutemen can blame the Republican Party and the Iraq war, but the race
was Graf's to win - or lose. And it was the Minutemen's race to lose as
well. The political stars were aligned for them. There was no incumbent.
Graf had name recognition and a ready-made base from his 2004 primary loss
to Kolbe.

The Minutemen barked as loud as they could in this election. But the
results were clear: The Minutemen may be a dog with no bite.


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