Former state lawmaker Ruben Gallego has been elected to serve in Arizona’s Congressional District Seven. Gallego will discuss his plans now that he’s been elected.
Ted Simons: Ruben Gallego was elected Tuesday night to represent Arizona's seventh congressional district, and he replaces Ed pastor, who is retiring after 24 years in Congress. Joining us now is, is representative-elect Ruben Gallego. Good to have you here and congratulations on your win.
Ruben Gallego: Thank you very much.
Ted Simons: And first order of business, for you in Washington. What's it going to be?
Ruben Gallego: First order of business is really just trying to form a good relationship across the aisle, and within your own caucus. Nothing really happens in D.C. right now, unless you do it in a bipartisan manner and, and it started to -- the basics, just talking to people, and, you know, getting to know people. And putting a good staff together.
Ted Simons: And when you go back there, obviously, you are going to have to ask a lot of questions and learn from a lot of folks. Who do you plan to learn from?
Ruben Gallego: We have a great delegation. Christian luczanits -- Kyrsten Sinema is a superstar. And Patrick is regarded well along other Congress members, and I will be talking to her, and when it comes to armed services because I believe barber will be coming back, and I will be leaning a lot on Ron, too.
Ted Simons: As far as pastor, have you spoken with him?
Ruben Gallego: I have. We talked several times, he's been very helpful, and I look forward to, you know, gaining more knowledge from him, too and, and you know, pastor has been very, very, you know, I have got to say, the whole delegation has been really good.
Ted Simons: As far as being different from representative pastor, what do you think you are going to bring?
Ruben Gallego: You know, it's hard to say, like pastor had had a great 22-year career run that, you know, we can thank what we know as modern downtown Phoenix because it had, you know, it's hard to say what kind of, of, of style that I have because I really need to get there and just figure it out because it's a whole new, a whole new ball game to be honest.
Ted Simons: I was going to say, it has to be humbling because you go back there, and you really do need to kind of watch and learn and wait a bit, don't you?
Ruben Gallego: Exactly. And that's, that's how I've always been able to succeed, I was in the marine corps, whether it's getting myself through college or in the state legislature, and, you know, it's finding good mentors taking your time, forming good relationships and, and, and striking at the right time.
Ted Simons: What can you realistically expect to get done as a freshmen member of the minority party?
Ruben Gallego: Well, for one, it feels like deja vu. When I came into the Arizona State legislature in 2010, I came into such a small caucus. You could have fed us two extra large pizzas. It will be difficult, you know, I think that the most important thing that I could do is focus my constituent services right away, some of my district needs, as an Iraq war Veteran, especially, it's near and dear to my heart, and I think it's something that's very bipartisan that we can be working on across the aisle. You have seen people like Kyrsten Sinema and Kirkpatrick really pushing that already and working across the aisle to get great bills through.
Ted Simons: Some of those constituent services, what are you talking about there?
Ruben Gallego: You know, it's a basic thing like making sure that people, when they have problems getting their social security or getting any kind of Government benefit that they are due, and making sure that we're answering the phone calls and connecting the people to the right, to the right department, or whether it's making sure that business is, is, is able to get whatever they need out of their Federal Government. All these things are really important, I think, especially for a district like this, which needs a lot of help.
Ted Simons: And as far as the bigger issues now, immigration, obviously, a big one, and with the makeup of Congress now, there is a lot of concern and a lot of question as to what the President is going to do. If he bypasses Congress, if he goes through executive action, what are your thoughts?
Ruben Gallego: I think that he should go through the executive action right away. The history of the Republican Congress so far has been to delay and obstruct, and anything that we expect them to do anything in terms of the immigration reform, it's not going to happen. It's just a delayed tactic until they pull it off, and they put it off for another reason and, and at this point, there is families that are hurting, and millions of families that are potentially going to be separated when we don't need this to happen, and we need some administrative relief.
Ted Simons: If the Republicans do come up with something tangible, something concrete, something that they can send, get through Congress, and up to the President, first, if you are met with something of that nature, is it just, just -- you have to look at it seriously.
Ruben Gallego: Absolutely. Look, immigration reform is supported across the aisle, both Democrats and Republicans and independents, and you know, we want to have a solution to, to this problem we have had for now for more than a decade, and longer than that. So, if the solutions, the Republican solution, and it's one that, that, actually, is, is sane and just, especially for our families and for the American public, I will look at it. It does not matter whose name is on there as a sponsor.
Ted Simons: What is sane and just as far as you are concerned?
Ruben Gallego: Well, to go into some detail, we need to have a verified manner for somebody to put themselves with the law and to be able to come out of the shadows, and it means paying a fine, that's fine but it cannot be an onerous fine, if they have to wait longer in order for them to be eligible to come, that's fine, as long as again, it's not an onerous manner, but it needs to be predictive, and we need to be -- something on par with, with what was occurring, which is the de facto amnesty that occurred for 20 years.
Ted Simons: As far as other issues, major issues, American intervention in foreign affairs, where do you stand on that and can you make a line and use it in every single situation? Some folks can. And they say no, nothing, or we have got to be involved in everything.
Ruben Gallego: I think you need to be flexible when it comes to the foreign policy, the nature of it. It is, it is so, so, so fungible, if you don't have that, that actually is flexible to that. You could find yourself in a very tight situation. And, and, you know, when it comes to Iraq, you know, for me, it's heart-breaking. I cleared a lot of those cities of insurgents, and I lost a lot of good friends and, and you know, there is a certain level of pride that says that we should go in there. The last thing that we need is to send soldiers into a country, and at the core, once, one we stabilize the Iraqi military, they should be able to take care of this. It was a political problem that caused this. Once the Government starts sharing Government, with, with the sunnis and the curds, they should be able to defeat Isis, but without sending in troops, take care of this for them, is not going for forge a long lasting Iraqi Government.
Ted Simons: And as far as the election is concerned, your thoughts, why do you think that there was a GOP landslide?
Ruben Gallego: Well, I think that there is a, a lot of reasons why, but, you know, turnout is usually really bad, as it is for Democrats, or any party that's out of that, that -- that the President is in power is going to -- is going to have a really bad mid-term. And this one has been established bad. Also, it's very important that the Democrats need to, to really run good campaigns and have strong messages. I think that the campaigns are, ran strong messages have come out successful. Look at, at Ann kirkpatrick and Ron barber, and Ron will pull it off, and the reason that they won is because they had a strong message that was really able to withstand the tide, and, you know, can I say Kyrsten Sinema was one of the reddest districts of all held by the Democrats here, and the credit is to people like that who can run campaigns like that.
Ted Simons: As far as Latino turnout, we hear every cycle that this will be the election that the Hispanic vote rises to, to, to what, what some expect to see. What do you expect to see and, and why has that been so difficult.
Ruben Gallego: There is a lot of reasons. First, Latino, the Latino population can't bring something over the victory, unless it's a coalition, and we have to be in a coalition with, with working class people, our Anglo commune, and that's when we're able to tip the balance. I think that we have to wait and see the actual returns. We could see who did turn out and who did not. In certain instance, the Latino community did turn out, and in certain instances it was the Anglo community, so we really have to wait and see. The harder problem and why it's difficult to mobilize the Latino community is that, is that they are younger, and they are more mobile. So, even if you register somebody one year, by the time that you come around and try to talk to them, they have been down to another hole, and that's a true situation for almost any population that young. So, we, as Latino leaders, have to continuously be doing a Latino turnout operations every year, and that's something that I am going to dedicate myself to doing. We did it this year and will next year until we create a culture of turnout within the Latino community.
Ted Simons: All right. Are you excited to get back to these?
Ruben Gallego: You know, it's, it's been very interesting. Ite -- right now, I'm trying to catch up with the honey do lists. So as soon as that's done I'll be there.
Ted Simons: There are priorities, and congratulations, good to have you here, and thank you very much.
Ruben Gallego: Thank you.
Ruben Gallego:Congressman, Arizona's Congressional District Seven;