The political backlash has begun.
The uproar surrounding Arizona's recent passage of the nation's most stringent immigration law has already produced a new candidate for the Senate seat that has been occupied for 24 years by John McCain: political organizer Randy Parraz.
Parraz will square off in the Democrat primaries against Tucson City Councilman Rodney Glassman on Sept. 7, with the winner taking on the Republican victor. In that race, McCain will try to fend off former GOP Congressman J.D. Hayworth, who accuses McCain of being soft on immigration.
Parraz said he'd been contemplating a run for a while, but said Gov. Jan Brewer's signing of the new Arizona law was the last straw.
"We need to move Arizona in a more progressive direction," he told HispanicBusiness.com Wednesday. "This problem (illegal immigration) has been here for decades. What's new is how it's being discussed. ... Cooler heads need to prevail."
Illegal immigration issues in Arizona have intensified since the San Diego area tightened its borders in the early 2000s. Hispanics now make up about a third of the Arizona's population, and constitute about 17 percent of the state's eligible voters.
Earlier this month, McCain made a plea to the federal government for an increased National Guard presence, noting that 17 percent of the people caught trying enter Arizona from Mexico had criminal records.
For his part, Parraz has long been a dogged critic of the nation's most controversial sheriff, Joe Arpaio, the head elected lawman of Maricopa County, Arizona, who is known for his aggressive tactics in detaining illegal immigrants.
In September of 2008, Parraz was arrested on charges of disorderly conduct and criminal trespassing after leading a group of protesters who interrupted a Maricopa County Board of Supervisors meeting by shouting and holding up anti-Arpaio signs. He was aquitted a year later.
His spokeswoman, Christina Martinez, told Politico that the state needs a candidate who will give voice to the disenfranchised.
"For many of us, our spirit has become broken," she told the news Web site. "People don't have the will to take the lead and challenge these folks, so we're relying on Randy to do it."
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