Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has bailed on a Republican congressional candidate who landed in hot water last month after saying Middle Eastern immigrants should be banned from the U.S.
Phoenix television station KTVK reported on Tuesday that Brewer (R) abruptly dropped out of a fundraiser she was scheduled to headline for Gabriela Saucedo Mercer, the party’s nominee in southern Arizona’s 3rd Congressional District.
“The governor will not be attending,” Brewer’s spokesman Matt Benson told the station on Monday. Benson declined to say why. He said Brewer was not rescinding her endorsement and may help the candidate in the future, but he offered no specific plans.
The fundraiser was set to be held Wednesday in Tucson, Ariz. Saucedo Mercer had promoted the appearance for weeks, even prior to winning an Aug. 28 primary. The last time she mentioned it on Facebook was Sept. 1, when she wrote: “seats are going fast, book yours now!!”
Saucedo Mercer, who is trying to unseat Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), spent the past couple weeks backpedaling after a video surfaced showing her saying that Middle Eastern immigrants should be banned from the U.S.
“If you know Middle Easterners, a lot of them, they look Mexican or they look, you know, like a lot of people in South America, dark skin, dark hair, brown eyes. And they mix. They mix in,” she said in the video. “And those people, their only goal in life is to, to cause harm to the United States. So why do we want them here, either legally or illegally?”
Critics accused Saucedo Mercer of racism. Her opponent’s campaign called it “hate speech.” An immigrant from Mexico who later became a U.S. citizen, Saucedo Mercer later said her comments were taken out of context and that she was talking specifically about terrorists from the Middle East.
She even held an event last week in Tucson to specifically address the issue, according to the Arizona Daily Star.
“I want to make clear: I am not against Muslims,” Saucedo Mercer said, according to the newspaper. “I am against radical Islamic terrorists. Their only goal in life is to come to this country and cause us harm.”
Yet in Facebook postings as recently as Sept. 3, Saucedo Mercer appeared to be engaging in anti-Muslim rhetoric. In one post, she linked to an articled titled “Islamic Inventions? How Islamic Inventors Did Not Change The World.” The article was on a website called WikiIslam, which describes itself as being founded by the anti-Muslim organization Faith Freedom International.
Saucedo Mercer’s website didn’t mention the governor’s cancellation from the fundraiser on her website late Tuesday, but a photo of the two of them together had disappeared from the front page. A link on the site, however, still went to a page advertising a “Reception With Governor Jan Brewer.” Tickets were available for $50 and $100.
Nick Martin is an associate editor at TPM in New York City. He came to the site in 2011 as a reporter for TPMMuckraker. Previously, he worked in Arizona, first as a staff reporter for a local newspaper and later as a freelance journalist. He also ran the news blog Heat City. Contact him: nick [at] talkingpointsmemo.com