Canyon County Commissioner and anti-immigration pundit Robert Vasquez announced on June 10 his intention to run for Butch Otter's soon-to-be-vacant U.S. Congressional seat, joining a small handful of Republicans who have expressed interest in the position. The difference between Vasquez and these others is that he only speaks about a single issue: illegal aliens. Most recently, he strong-armed Canyon County into hiring a lawyer to pursue litigation of any businesses found to employ illegal immigrants-although Vasquez prefers different terminology. As he told the Idaho Press-Tribune earlier this year, "That would be like saying Hitler's army marching into Poland was merely 'immigrating.'"
Can a candidate run a congressional campaign based solely on an issue as divisive and difficult as immigration reform? Vasquez think so; after all, he portrayed his reason for running, in a June 10 press release, as "Those previously announced candidates lack any real commitment to America's language, borders and culture."
Fellow candidate and Idaho Legislature nine-termer Sheila Sorensen believes that Vasquez needs to branch out to beat her and the other contenders. "I understand his passion for the illegal immigration problem, and believe that this issue requires serious attention," she said after Vasquez announced his candidacy. "However, Idahoans are concerned about many other issues."
Whether we, as voters, really care about more than migrant labor reform will be clear next year. What is already clear, however, is that Vasquez will continue to generate a quote a minute about what is wrong with those who are not fond of his isolationist jingoism-like he did on CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight on June 9, a day before announcing his candidacy.
"Those that are opposed to me are the people that are hiring the illegal aliens, profiting from the exploitation of their labor, and passing on the costs of those individuals to their fellow taxpayers," he said.