Back in February, Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon joined a list of Arizona mayors who endorsed Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) in his bid for re-election. That was before Gov. Jan Brewer (R-AZ) signed SB-1070, the nation’s harshest immigration bill, into law. McCain says the law is a “good tool” for local law enforcement, while Gordon is an ardent critic of the bill.
It goes without saying that McCain has run to the right on immigration due to the tight race he is currently facing against former Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R-AZ). However, in an interview with ThinkProgress yesterday, Gordon explained why he still stands behind McCain, despite his troubling flip-flop:
The last thing we want in this country is an individual like J.D. Hayworth in the Congress who is full of racism, will talk forever, and use every means to push his hate. So, in that sense, Senator McCain should beat him and beat him handily. Then, I think, turning back that type of person with the issue is being run against McCain — even with McCain on that side of the spectrum, will be a good sign for the future.
Gordon told ThinkProgress that he has sat down with McCain and asked him to focus on comprehensive immigration reform if and when he is re-elected to office. In 2005, McCain sponsored a moderate comprehensive immigration reform bill with Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA). That same year, in the House, Hayworth voted against the “Sensenbrenner” immigration reform bill because the bill did not do enough to “turn back the massive invasion of our country by illegal aliens.” The Sensenbrenner bill would’ve made undocumented immigrants and anyone who helps them into felons.
McCain’s legislation succeeded in blocking the House bill from passing and Hayworth was voted out of office in 2006. Four years later, McCain has indicated that he will filibuster immigration reform if it is proposed in 2010. So far, he has said nothing about what he will do if it is proposed in 2011.