An Arizona man who gave himself the same name as a deceased Latino civil rights hero is no longer allowed to run for Congress.
After a hearing this week that was described as both heartfelt and bizarre, 34-year-old Cesar Chavez was kicked out of the tight congressional race to replace long-serving Democratic Rep. Ed Pastor, whose district is nearly two thirds Hispanic.
The judge ruled that nearly half of the 1,500 signatures were invalid, a decision that Chavez said he plans to appeal, according to the Arizona Republic. Chavez, formerly Scott Fistler, acted as his own attorney in his case. In the video embedded above, Chavez says he drew inspiration for the name change from the Cesar brand of dog food and athletes Julio César Chávez and Eric Cesar Chavez—or as one of the interviewers put it “this really amounts to sports and dog food.”
Chavez’s campaign landed in court after a challenge from Alejandro Chavez, the grandson of the labor icon, who accused him of trying to defraud voters. The state’s Democratic leaders had also threatened to sue Chavez for making “a mockery of the system,” according to the Arizona Capitol Times.
Chavez was a mystery candidate for weeks into his campaign. He had no staff, no money and no public events.
He did have a Web site – which included copyrighted photos of Mexican-flag-waving supporters in a parade in Kansas and a Venezuelan rally for the former President Hugo Chavez.
It wasn’t Chavez’s first bid for Pastor’s seat. Chavez ran a write-in campaign in the 2012 election as a Republican. He changed his name in November 2013, explaining that he has faced hardships because of his name and his party in April.
He would have opposed a well-known duo of Hispanic candidates in a heavily Hispanic district. (Both have connections to the real Chavez, according to the Republic.)
By the end of the candidate’s tear-filled testimony, Alejandro Chavez withdrew his charge that he was attempting to confuse voters.
“I believed it was an attempt to try and fool voters, but now that I’ve met him, I don’t believe that was his intent,” Alejandro Chavez told reporters.
In a note posted Tuesday on his website, the candidate encouraged supporters not to give up on his “political dream team.”
“Our freedom of speech is in jeopardy, but we are up standing up against the corporate elite who want nothing more than to control an election,” he wrote.
He added: ” BUMPS IN THE ROAD JUST GIVE THE JOUNEY [sic] CHARACTER.”