Scott Fistler Changes Name To 'Cesar Chavez,' Re-Registers As Democrat To Attract Latino Support

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An Arizona Republican who keeps losing elections has come up with a novel plan for winning: He’s legally changed his name to Cesar Chavez and re-registered as a Democrat. Scott Fistler, a candidate for Congress in Arizona’s heavily Hispanic 7th District, now shares a name with the pioneering American labor icon of the 1960s. He's also plastered his campaign website with pictures of the more famous Cesar Chavez, in case it the intent behind his name change was unclear.

Fistler ran unsuccessfully for the same seat in 2012 as a Republican, then embarked on a failed bid for the Phoenix city council in 2013. So Fistler changed his party affiliation to Democrat, told a court that’d he “experienced many hardships because of my name,” and paid $319. Now, instead of “Fistler (R),” he’ll appear on the ballot as “Chavez (D)” in his race against Rep. Ed Pastor — Arizona’s first Latino congressperson.

“I think that’s really poor taste,” said Mary Rose Wilcox, a Democrat who’s running against Chavez for the same seat. “Voters aren’t going to be fooled.”

She’s probably right, especially since the labor leader with whom Chavez shares a name has been dead for over 20 years. In a letter to the Arizona Capitol Times, Chavez — who has no campaign staff or endorsements — says he’s been “flooded with calls and emails” since announcing the change, and that “there is just simply not enough Chavez to go around.” He added that, when he does get around to answering media questions again, he won’t be discussing his name change.

When asked what he’d do if elected, Chavez said he’d “just show up there and act presentable.”

“It’d be kind of like the first day of kindergarten,” he said.

If his bid is unsuccessful, he’ll follow the same fate as South Carolina’s Alvin Greene, a political novice who came out of nowhere to win a Senate primary in South Carolina four years ago. He had no campaign staff, signs, speeches or events (in other words, no campaign); some speculate voters mistakenly thought he was the singer Al Green. Regardless, Greene lost the general election by more than 40 points.

On his website, Chavez appropriated images from a 2006 rally in for Cesar Chavez in Kansas and falsely represented them as being from a local campaign event.