Alejandro Chavez, the grandson of the revered National Farm Workers Association co-founder Cesar Chavez, has filed a challenge in a superior court in Arizona requesting that Cesar Chavez – not Alejandro’s grandfather but an opportunistic politician who changed his name in 2013 from Scott Fistler – be removed from the Democratic primary ballot for the 7th U.S. Congressional District race.
The seat the former Fistler is running for is being vacated when Arizona Representative Ed Pastor retires next year. Pastor, a Democrat, was Arizona's first Latino congressman and has held his post for nearly 40 years.
The living Cesar Chavez is a 34-year-old former Republican who has run for office under the name Fistler twice – once as a write-in candidate for Pastor’s seat and again in 2013 for a seat on the Phoenix City Council – with both campaigns ending unsuccessfully.
The challenge, according to the Arizona Capitol Times, was filed on Alejandro Chavez’s behalf by Jim Barton of the Torres Consulting & Law Group in Tempe, Ariz. It claims that the politician changed his name in an effort to interfere with the election by confusing voters in violation of state electoral law.
It also points out irregularities in Chavez/Fistler’s election filings: He declared his candidacy with the Federal Elections Commission as a Democrat in February, but didn’t officially change his party affiliation until April.
When asked by the Arizona Republic recently why he changed his name to Chavez, the politician cited the need to make voters in the Latino-heavy district feel secure with him.
“People want a name that they can feel comfortable with,” Chavez said. “If you went out there running for office and your name was Bernie Madoff, you’d probably be screwed.”
In changing his name in Maricopa County superior court last year, the then-Fistler wrote that he had “experienced many hardships because of my name.”
The candidate’s campaign website includes no pictures of the candidate or an official bio. The site does have many photos of people holding up signs celebrating Chavez—in this case, Venezuelan news reports of rallies in support of the late president Hugo Chávez.
"My name is on a lot of popular things," he explained to the Republic.
It is just that kind of attitude that has made his opponents in the primary and the Democratic leadership in Arizona skeptical of his intentions.
State party chairman D.J. Quinlan told the Capitol Times that he thought Chavez was making “a mockery of the system.”