Who won the straw poll? California Congressman Duncan Hunter came in first with 96 votes, and attributed his success to his tough stances on immigration and national security. Hunter, who has a career grade of A+ from the ever reliable Americans for Better Immigration website, has a long history of fighting for serious immigration reform.
Hunter also opposes free trade, and has repeatedly voted against trade agreements like NAFTA, CAFTA, and the WTO on the grounds they hurt American manufacturing and contribute to our massive trade deficit. Formerly Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, he supports the War in Iraq, but the Vietnam veteran and one time Army Ranger can hardly be called a chicken hawk.
Political observes immediately noticed the immigration connection:
Lyle Tuttle, the Maricopa County Republican Committee chairman, said Hunter's showing wasn't expected.
"I was surprised, but when you look at it you see that Duncan is a pretty solid conservative and he should take pride in that he scored so well."
Tuttle said McCain's stance on immigration in which he favors amnesty for illegal immigrants hurts with the Phoenix-area Republicans as well as the GOP's rank and file across Arizona, a state that like California shares a border with Mexico.
"That and his attempt to appeal to the center of the political spectrum have not played with the conservative people here in Arizona," Tuttle said during a telephone interview.
[Hunter Takes Arizona GOP Straw Poll, North County Times, 1/15/07]
Hunter didn’t fare so well when party officials were asked to name “acceptable presidential candidates,” coming in seventh, but veteran immigration reformer Tom Tancredo came in fourth, and both were ahead of McCain, who finished ninth. McCain did, however, come in first in one category. When asked to name “unacceptable presidential candidates,” 282 named McCain.
Also, when asked to name the reasons for the GOP’s recent electoral defeat, “too lenient on immigration,” came in third, after Iraq (first) and spending (second).