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How The Justice Department's Immigration Lawsuit Burned Arizona Democrats

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The media seems to agree. From Politico to NPR, reports have emerged suggesting that Democrats who back the lawsuit will be on the wrong side of their electorate in Arizona.

Candidates appear to have gotten the message. A pair of embattled Democratic Representatives -- Ann Kirkpatrick and Harry Mitchell -- expressed their displeasure with the suit right after it was filed, seeking to distance themselves from the suit before it even got rolling. Even Arizona's chief law enforcement officer, Attorney General Terry Goddard, came out against the suit as he ramps up his gubernatorial campaign.

"It is disappointing to see the federal government choosing to intervene in a state statute instead of working with Arizona to create sustainable solutions to the illegal immigration issue that our state and country so desperately need," Goddard said in a statement.

Arizona Democratic Party Executive Director Luis Heredia acknowledged that running a political campaign in Arizona on the side of the party (at least theoretically) behind the lawsuit was not exactly ideal.

"It's a distraction," he told me. "It's distracting the electorate from the issue of comprehensive immigration reform."

That's the main problem with the lawsuit, according to Heredia. By making the issue into a battle over state's rights (i.e. whether or not Arizona can enforce immigration laws on its own), it makes it tough for Democrats to get a word in edgewise about comprehensive reform, an issue where Democrats usually have the advantage.

"It continues to kind of hurt as they stall [on comprehensive reform]," Herida said. "The lawsuit and SB 1070 are not solving the problem."