Grandson of Cesar Chavez sues Ariz. candidate now known as Cesar Chavez


Will the real Cesar Chavez please stand up? In this 1966 file photo, the civil rights leader (not the newly renamed Arizona candidate) speaks to the press in San Francisco. (AP)

So about that Cesar Chavez campaign for Congress in 2014...

Alejandro Chavez, grandson of the real Cesar Chavez, has filed a lawsuit in Superior Court of Maricopa County to challenge the candidacy of a man formerly known as Scott Fistler, who changed his name to Cesar Chavez to run in the Democratic primary in Arizona's 7th district. Fistler Chavez also changed his party affiliation, from Republican to Democrat.

The Arizona Republic first reported Fistler's bizarre move to name himself after the famous Mexican American civil rights leader.

"It's almost as simple as saying Elvis Presley is running for president," Fistler Chavez told the Republic. "You wouldn't forget it, would you?"

He added: "People want a name that they can feel comfortable with. If you went out there running for office and your name was Bernie Madoff, you'd probably be screwed."

Hoping to put an end to the charade, Chavez's grandson, who lives in Arizona's heavily Hispanic 7th district, had campaign lawyer Jim Barton file an official complaint that could get Fistler-turned-Chavez thrown off the ballot before the Aug. 26 primary.

"What drew the attention of Alejandro was Scott Fistler sort of cynically changing his name to Cesar Chavez," Barton said in an interview. "We wanted to basically call out what we saw as an effort to confuse the voters."

Alejandro Chavez is also challenging the validity of the 1,455 signatures on Fistler's petition and will challenge any signatures Fistler collected prior to changing his party registration to Democrat.

Candidates must have at least 1,039 signatures to qualify for the ballot, and Barton believes he can successfully challenge enough of the 1,455 signatures to have Fistler removed from the ballot.

As Sean Sullivan noted last week, Fistler Chavez isn't going to win, regardless of the outcome of the lawsuit. But Barton is hopeful the candidate with the familiar name won't appear on the ballot at all.

"I feel that he’s going to get thrown off the ballot," Barton said.

Abby Phillip is a general assignment national reporter for the Washington Post. She can be reached at abby.phillip@washpost.com. On Twitter: @abbydphillip
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