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Obama deportation move looms large over Arizona races

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Running as an incumbent member of Congress has its disadvantages.

President Obama. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)

But in the case of Reps. David Schweikert (R-Ariz.) and Ben Quayle (R-Ariz.), it can also have its advantages.

Quayle and Schweikert, who are running against each other this August in what looks to be one of this year’s more competitive member-vs.-member primaries, have both responded to President Obama’s immigration announcement last week by introducing legislation that would prohibit implementation of the move.

The headline from Schweikert’s press shop: “REP. SCHWEIKERT INTRODUCES BILL TO STOP PRESIDENT FROM ENFORCING AN EXECUTIVE ORDER AS IMMIGRATION LAW.”

The headline from Quayle: “Quayle Introduces Bill to Stop Obama Immigration Edict.”

The actions by Quayle and Schweikert stand in contrast to statements by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and some other top Republicans who have voiced increasing support for halting the deportations of those who were brought to the United States illegally as children.

Meanwhile, the response to Obama’s announcement by Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) — who faces a Senate primary challenge this August from businessman Wil Cardon — falls into a separate category: those who have criticized the way in which Obama made his move but have declined to comment on the merits of the policy shift.

Flake had previously been a longtime supporter of comprehensive immigration reform, but he announced last year that he believes that route is a political “dead end” and now supports tackling border security first.

In a statement last Friday, Flake argued that “there is no way to view the president’s announcement on immigration without concluding that it was politically motivated.”

“It comes just months before the election and on the heels of the Administration’s decision to redefine what ‘operational control’ means on the southern border (if we aren’t achieving it, let’s just redefine it),” he said. “Nice diversion. I met with a group of ranchers in Douglas earlier this week, who had this message: ‘How about some help on the border, Mr. President.’ ”

Cardon, who has been hammering Flake on immigration in TV ads and on the trail, said in his statement on Obama’s announcement that the president’s move amounts to “election-year posturing on amnesty and illegal immigration.”

“This gimmick, designed to rally Obama voters, does Arizona a huge disservice — especially those Arizonans having trouble finding jobs who will have to compete with illegal immigrants in our state’s down economy,” Cardon said.

Cardon also seized on the announcement to take a dig at Flake. “Unlike Congressman Flake, who supported pro-amnesty legislation for years before his own election year flip flop, Wil Cardon will not waver in his opposition to amnesty,” he said.

The moves by the four GOP contenders — as well as the Supreme Court’s expected ruling this month on Arizona’s illegal immigration law — point to an increasingly heated battle in the Grand Canyon State this summer.

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