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Arizona GOP lawmaker faces backlash over comments on race

David Stringer
Posted at 8:19 PM, Nov 30, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-30 22:19:53-05

PHOENIX (AP) — A Republican Arizona lawmaker who faced a backlash in June after saying "there aren't enough white kids to go around" when discussing school integration faced new criticism Friday about his views on race and was booted from a committee chairmanship.

The developments came after the Phoenix New Times published comments Rep. David Stringer of Prescott made to Arizona State University students following a recent lecture. Stringer told the students African-Americans "don't blend in" and said Somali immigrants don't look like "every other kid" as previous European immigrants do.

He also called Spanish-speaking students a burden on society because he said educating them costs more.

Incoming Republican House Speaker Rusty Bowers called the comments "vile" and "unacceptable" and told Stringer to resign from a plum committee chair assignment. Some Democrats called the comments racist, but Bowers declined to go that far.

"I don't want to do there," Bowers said in an interview with The Associated Press. "I think they're just reprehensible. Racist is so hot it can go beyond."

Stringer didn't immediately return a call seeking comment.

Democratic Rep. Reginald Bolding, who is black, called the comments insensitive.

"Whether or not Rep. Stringer is racist or not is something that he has to answer for himself," Bolding told the AP. "I think the words that he uses, the things that he says, absolutely it sounds like that they are racist comments. But whether or not they are that's something he has to answer for."

Stringer faced calls to resign from Republican Gov. Doug Ducey and the state Republican Party chairman in June after he said that immigration had made integrating schools impossible. He refused, saying his comments were cherry-picked and that the immigration question "cries out for honest and open public discussion."

"Sixty percent of public school children in the state of Arizona today are minorities," he said in a video clip from a political event made public. "That complicates racial integration because there aren't enough white kids to go around."

He also said immigration is "politically destabilizing" and "represents an existential threat to the United States."

Stringer was handily re-elected Nov. 6 to represent his heavily-Republican Prescott-area district.

In the New Times story , backed up by audio recordings, Stringer is questioned by students about his views on immigration and race. He tells the students that "diversity in our country is relatively new," but was then asked about immigrants from eastern Europe who assimilated well in the 20th century.

"They were all European," Stringer said. "So after their second or third generation, everybody looks the same. Everybody talks the same. That's not the case with African-American and other racial groups because they don't melt in. They don't blend in. They always look different."

Asked why that matters, Stringer said he didn't know. He went on to discuss inner cities, white flight, and how Latino voters will never support Republicans who back tighter immigration controls.

Representative-elect Raquel Teran, a Democrat, had no trouble calling out Stringer.

"I am beyond appalled by Mr. Stringer's racist comments (AGAIN)," she said in a Twitter post. "This is unacceptable and we should be hearing a loud and clear ask for his resignation from all parties and leaders."

Bowers said he told Stringer to resign from his newly-assigned post as chair of a committee looking at sentencing and recidivism reform.

"This isn't David Stringer, this is Representative Stringer. This isn't Rusty Bowers, it is Speaker-elect Bowers," he said. "And it's in those contexts that I have to operate. And it's unacceptable speech, and he accepted it and apologized, but he was still released" from his committee chair post.