Arizona GOP House candidate Nick Pierson this week attacked his Democratic opponent, Rep. Raúl Grijalva, in a debate, saying the Democrat is "not a good example of a Mexican … and he’s not a good example of an American."

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“I’ve been watching the incumbent since I was in college, and he’s not a good example of a Mexican,” Pierson said of Grijalva in the first of a series of debates aired live on Arizona PBS's "Arizona Horizon" program. “He’s not a good example of a Mexican-American, and he’s not a good example of an American.”

“He’s not a good role model for the people in our community,” Pierson continued. “This guy has been drunk on the job. There’s dozens of people who have seen this and witnessed this.”

Pierson, who is also of Mexican descent, was apparently referring to a secret settlement in 2015 that only became public in 2018. The $48,000 settlement involved an unidentified staff member who alleged Grijalva, who is seeking to serve a ninth term in his role representing Arizona's 3rd Congressional District, created a hostile work environment, according to The Arizona Republic.

Grijalva later noted during the debate that the Office of Congressional Ethics reviewed the allegations and recommended a dismissal of the reported settlement due to a lack of evidence.

The Democratic incumbent also took a swipe at Pierson for reportedly not being a resident of the district he is campaigning to represent.

"Quite frankly, if Mr. Pierson cares so much about this district, he should probably live in the district that he chooses to want to represent," Grijalva said. "You don’t live in the district."

Though Pierson initially claimed the jab was a falsehood, he later acknowledged that he lives  “close to the district and I’ve been working in the district for many years."  

"Sir, I have been involved in these Latino issues my whole life," Grijalva added, "and I have never seen you there."

Pierson is seen as a longshot candidate in the race to unseat Grijalva for Arizona's 3rd Congressional District. According to the Arizona Republic, Democrats have a 23-percentage-point registration advantage in the district.