Until last week, Republican State Rep. David Stringer was the chair of the Arizona House Sentencing and Recidivism Reform committee, having been re-elected to his seat last month.
But on Friday, Stringer unceremoniously resigned his position amid a growing scandal involving racist remarks he made following a lecture at Arizona State University.
In a leaked audio recording from the event, students confronted Stringer for racist remarks he made months earlier. Stringer is heard telling the students that diversity in the United States is a new phenomenon, a laughable assertion that the students immediately push back on by pointing to waves of immigrants from Ireland and Italy a century ago.
“They were all European,” Stringer explained in the recording, which was shared with the Phoenix New Times . “So after their second or third generation, everybody looks the same. Everybody talks the same. That’s not the case with African-Americans and other racial groups because they don’t melt in. They don’t blend in. They always look different.”
Stringer went on to call non-white immigrants a “burden.” When one student shared his own story of being raised the child of Polish immigrants, Stringer doubled down on his racism.
“The difference between the Polish-American immigrant and the immigrant from Somalia is the second-generation Polish immigrant looks like the Irish kid and the German kid and every other kid,” he said. “But the immigrant from Somalia does not.”
Stringer has been a racist for much longer than the past week. In June, during a local Republican Men’s Forum, he called immigration “an existential threat,” and remarked that there “aren’t enough white kids to go around,” in Arizona’s public school system.
His comments were met with calls for his resignation from members of both parties, but he refused to step down. In light of the latest comments, lawmakers and local activists renewed their effort to pressure Stringer to resign.
“His remarks don’t reflect the sentiments of the Arizona Legislature, the constituents we represent, and the policies we enact,” said incoming Republican House Speaker Rusty Bowers in an interview. He called Stringer’s latest remarks “vile.”
Democrats in the deliberative body went even further with their condemnations. Minority Whip Reginald Bolding floated the possibility of a formal censure and removal from the House, and suggested many of his colleagues would support such a motion.
“David Stringer has obviously shown a pattern of his prejudice toward people of color here in this state, and he is someone who I believe should not be representing the state of Arizona in any form or fashion,” he said.