PHOENIX (Reuters) - Mexican-American labor leader Cesar Chavez may have died 21 years ago, but his name will live on thanks to a political unknown apparently trying to capitalize on his legacy.
This Cesar Chavez, who legally changed his name last year from Scott Fistler and switched parties, has filed petitions seeking the Democratic nomination for an open congressional seat in a largely Hispanic district in Arizona.
The seat is being vacated by retiring U.S. Representative Ed Pastor, who has held the job for nearly 40 years.
"People want a name that they can feel comfortable with," Chavez told the Arizona Republic, the state's largest newspaper, in an interview. "If you went out there running for office and your name was Bernie Madoff, you'd probably be screwed."
The man now known as Chavez, who could not immediately be reached by Reuters, has already lost two elections under his old name Fistler – once as a write-in candidate for the same seat and another as a hopeful for the Phoenix City Council.
Marc Grossman, a former aide to the civil rights leader and spokesman for his foundation, said voters would not be fooled.
"It's appalling that this candidate is insulting the legacy of someone who dedicated his life to service to the community," Grossman said.
"It shows a complete disrespect for the intelligence of the voters."
(Reporting by David Schwartz; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Jim Loney)