Arizona primary will test GOP immigration strategy

The House’s final immigration field hearing planned today in Washington coincides with the Arizona primary, and political analysts are watching the elections closely to see how immigration resonates with voters.

In Arizona’s open 8th congressional district, conservative GOP candidate Randy Graf and moderate Steve Huffman are squaring off to replace outgoing Rep. Jim Kolbe.

Graf press secretary R.T. Gregg said House Republicans’ immigration hearings over the August recess have helped focus attention on an important issue for the district.

“It was good that members of Congress came to this district that is most affected by illegal immigration to see first hand the effects of illegal immigration,” he said, “particularly given the lack of attention our current Congressman from this district has given this most pressing problem.”

Gregg also criticized the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) for pouring money into the district to benefit Huffman. Last week alone, the NRCC spent $122,000 on an ad campaign designed to benefit Huffman.

“[Immigration] is on the minds of voters...,” he said. However, Gregg argued that “intervention by power brokers in Washington has tended to cloud the issue...[the question becomes] whether the seat is for sale.”

Huffman’s campaign did not return a call for comment by press time.