Name Change

06.02.14

The GOP Candidate In Arizona Who Changed His Name To Cesar Chavez

Scott Fistler wasn’t having any success running for office as a white Republican in Arizona. So he switched parties and changed his name to Cesar Chavez.

Cesar Chavez is alive and running for Congress in Arizona. Or at least that’s what one white Republican wants Hispanic voters to believe.

The candidate formerly known as Scott Fistler, 38, refuses to say if he is actually Hispanic and is prone to wearing fedoras. He has spent the last two years of his life attempting to get elected as a Republican. First, he ran an unsuccessful campaign as a write-in against U.S. Rep. Ed Pastor—a Democrat. Then, he mounted an unsuccessful bid for the Phoenix city council.

Fistler (now Chavez) apparently took the hint that something about him was just not working for the people of Arizona, and in November petitioned a state superior court to legally change his name to that of the celebrated labor leader who died in 1993. The court granted his request for just $319.

In February of this year, Chavez—who did not respond a to a request for comment from The Daily Beast—filed to run (once again, against Rep. Pastor who has since announced he will not seek re-election.) for the Democratic nomination in the Copper State’s heavily Hispanic 7th district in the August 26th primary, despite not yet being registered as a Democrat (on the form, Chavez wrote he was running as a “DEM”). Chavez finally switched parties on April 28, and is one of six Democrats running for the open seat.

Although Chavez officially stated that he was changing his name because, “I have experienced many hardships because of my name,” some seem to think it was a blatant attempt to fool the voters in a heavily Mexican-American congressional district.

“It’s obviously very strange, and it’s also super cynical,” Ronnie Cho, a former White House aide and native of Arizona with strong political ties to the area, told The Daily Beast. Cho (who previously worked for Newsweek/The Daily Beast) was flabbergasted at Chavez’s chutzpah. “He thinks that he can just call himself a Hispanic name and people will vote for him.”

Arizona Democratic Party chairman DJ Quinlan told the Arizona Capitol Times that Chavez is “either trying to make a mockery of the system, or of Democrats, or of the Hispanic community.”

Chavez’s campaign website is hosted on Blogspot, and his last post was on February 5th. The blog, which includes nothing about Chavez’s political positions or credentials, features the option to have it translated into Spanish. Fistler is a German name.

“It’s obviously very strange, and it’s also super cynical,” Ronnie Cho, a former White House aide and native of Arizona with strong political ties to the area, told The Daily Beast.

According to a selectively-answered questionnaire filled out by Chavez (then-Republican and then-Fistler) in 2013 while he was running for the Phoenix city council, he is a “precinct committeeman and Disabled veteran” who has lived in Arizona for eight years and has no criminal record. His favorite book is The Sneetches by Dr. Seuss and Rocky is the movie that has the most meaning for him. Fistler also listed his Twitter handle, @ScottFistler, where he goes by “SUPER MARIO.”

The questionnaire did not do much to illuminate Chavez’s political ideology.  In his opinion, the greatest untapped opportunity for economic development in Phoenix is “everything that has not been touched yet that can improve our lives.” And when it comes to protection for the LGBT community, Fistler (now Chavez) wrote,  “Phoenix does a great job.”

Most notably, his answer to a question about gun ads on bus stops can accurately be quoted as “no, because freedom.” While the answer contained additional verbiage, it maintains the same low level of intellectual content.

Chavez is unlikely to win the Democratic primary against a field that includes State Rep. Reuben Gallego and Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox, who are both actually Democrats and actually Hispanic.