Raúl Grijalva

Raúl Grijalva
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Arizona's 3rd district
Assumed office
January 3, 2013
Preceded by Ben Quayle
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Arizona's 7th district
In office
January 3, 2003  January 3, 2013
Preceded by Constituency established
Succeeded by Ed Pastor
Personal details
Born Raúl Manuel Grijalva
(1948-02-19) February 19, 1948
Tucson, Arizona, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Ramona Grijalva
Children Adelita
Alma mater University of Arizona
Religion Roman Catholicism

Raúl Manuel Grijalva (/rɑːˈl ɡrɪˈhælvə/; born February 19, 1948) is an American politician who currently serves as the U.S. Representative for Arizona's 3rd congressional district, serving since 2003. He is a member of the Democratic Party. The district, numbered as the 7th District from 2003 to 2013, includes the western third of Tucson, all of Yuma and Nogales, and some peripheral parts of metro Phoenix.

Early life, education and career

Raúl Grijalva's father was a migrant worker from Mexico who entered the United States in 1945 through the Bracero Program and labored on southern Arizona ranches.[1] Grijalva was born in Tucson, Arizona, and graduated from Sunnyside High School in 1967. He is a 2004 inductee to the Sunnyside High School Alumni Hall of Fame. He attended the University of Arizona and earned a bachelor's degree in sociology. While at the University, he was a member of Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán (MEChA) which, at that time, was a radical group identified with the separatist "Aztlán" ideology. Grijalva also served as a leader of the Chicano Liberation Committee and other Chicano groups.

In addition, he was an Arizona leader of the Raza Unida Party. According to the standard history of the party by Dr. Armando Navarro, "Grijalva was so militant that he alienated some members of Tucson's Mexican-American community. After losing in his first bid for elective office, a 1972 run for a seat on the school board, he began to cultivate a less radical image."[2][3]

In 1974, he was elected to the Tucson Unified School District board and served as a school board member until 1986. Grijalva Elementary School in Tucson was named for him in 1987.[4] From 1975 to 1986, Grijalva was the director of the El Pueblo Neighborhood Center, and in 1987 he was Assistant Dean for Hispanic Student Affairs at the University of Arizona. Grijalva was a member of the Pima County Board of Supervisors from 1989 to 2002, and served as chairman from 2000 to 2002.[5]

U.S. House of Representatives

Arizona's 3rd congressional district, which Grijalva has represented since 2013.

Committee assignments


Grijalva is a member of several dozen caucuses. A full list is available at his Web site.[6]

Political positions

Grijalva co-chairs the Congressional Progressive Caucus with Keith Ellison of Minnesota[7][8] and in 2008 was among 12 members rated by National Journal as tied for most liberal overall.[9] On the ideological map of all House members at GovTrack's website, Grijalva is ranked farthest to the left.[10] Liberal and progressive activist groups routinely give him high marks for his voting record. Grijalva received a 100 percent score from Americans for Democratic Action, Peace Action, the League of Conservation Voters, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, NARAL Pro-Choice America, Arab American Institute, and several other notable groups in recent years.[11] With the start of the 114th Congress, Grijalva became the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Natural Resources.

Grijalva is an advocate of mining law reform[12] and many other environmental causes. From his position on the House Committee on Natural Resources—where he has been the top Democrat on the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands since 2007—he has led Democratic efforts to strengthen federal offshore oil drilling oversight since before the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill[13] and introduced a successful bill to create a permanent National Landscape Conservation System at the Bureau of Land Management.[14] He was a leading candidate for Secretary of the Interior when President Obama was elected, but the job eventually went to Ken Salazar[15]—according to the Washington Post, President Obama made the decision in part because of Grijalva's stated preference for more environmental analysis before approving offshore drilling projects.[16]

He has been a vocal opponent of Arizona's SB 1070 law that mandates police checks of citizenship documentation for anyone subjected to a legitimate law enforcement stop, detention or arrest as long as the officer does not consider race, color or national origin during the stop, detention or arrest.[17] Shortly after the measure was signed by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, Grijalva called on legal, political, activist and business groups not to hold their conventions or conferences in the state, a position that he said quickly became misconstrued as a call for a general boycott of the state economy.[18] In response, the Arizona Republican Party handed out bumper stickers reading "Boycott Grijalva, Not Arizona." After a federal judge stopped implementation of most of SB 1070, Grijalva withdrew the boycott, saying that he had reacted to it "very personally." In an interview regarding the situation, Grijalva said that "to all of a sudden have a law that separates me from the whole, I found very offensive and demeaning." [19]

He criticized the 2010 deployment of 1,200 National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border as "political symbolism" that he believed would not adequately address the issues of immigration and border security.[20]

Grijalva has frequently called for a withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and Iraq, and supports the wider implementation of the National Solidarity Program as a way to improve Afghans' economic and educational infrastructure.[21] The group Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America gave him an "A" rating for the 2007-2008 Congressional session.


Grijalva has a pro-choice voting record and voted against the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act.[22] He was strongly critical of the Stupak-Pitts Amendment, which sought to place limits on taxpayer-funded abortions in the Affordable Health Care for America Act.[23]

Budget proposals

As co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Rep. Grijalva has taken a leading role in shaping recent CPC "alternative budgets"—budget bills offered by various groups and caucuses in Congress other than the official majority or minority party plan. In 2011 the CPC introduced what it called the People's Budget, which reached budget balance in 10 years according to an assessment by the Economic Policy Institute based on nonpartisan government data.[24] The proposal was noted approvingly by some of the world's leading economists, including Jeffrey Sachs—who called it "a bolt of hope . . . humane, responsible, and most of all sensible"[25]—and Paul Krugman, who called it "genuinely courageous" for achieving budget balance "without dismantling the legacy of the New Deal.".[26][27]

In 2012, again with Grijalva as co-chair, the Progressive Caucus introduced the Budget for All, which is similar to the People's Budget and includes several new features, including a novel proposal to institute a small personal wealth tax above $10 million in net worth phased in over a period of five years.[28] The proposal received 78 votes, all from Democrats, when the House considered it on March 29, 2012.[29][30]

Deepwater Horizon and Oil Rig Safety

On Feb 24, 2010, Grijalva wrote a letter signed by 18 other Representatives calling for an investigation of the BP Atlantis offshore drilling platform due to whistleblower allegations that it was operating without approved safety documents.[31] He has called for Atlantis to be shut down.[32] Since the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on April 20, 2010, Grijalva has written letters to the Minerals Management Service and the Department of the Interior questioning current offshore drilling regulations and calling for stronger oversight of the oil industry.[33]

Grijalva has gained prominence as an outspoken critic of what he calls lax federal oversight of the oil drilling industry, and in late 2010 launched an investigation of the White House's handling of the Horizon spill and its aftermath. That investigation revealed that scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency and elsewhere in the federal government had voiced concerns about drafts of an official government report on the cause and scope of the spill, but were overruled because the report was meant as a "communications document".[34]

In 2010, he introduced H.R. 5355 to eliminate the cap on oil company liability for the cost of environmental cleanups of spills.[35]


Grijalva has sponsored numerous education bills during his time in Congress, including the Success in the Middle Act[36] and the Graduation for All Act.[37] Grijalva has long ties to the educational community from his time on the board of the Tucson Unified School District and his current position on the House Education and the Workforce Committee.


As a member and chairman of the Pima County Board of Supervisors, Grijalva was widely regarded as a central figure behind the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan,[38] an ambitious County program for planned land-use and biodiversity conservation.[39] He consistently supported endangered species and wilderness conservation on the Board of Supervisors and has continued to do so in Congress, introducing a bill in 2009 to make permanent the National Landscape Conservation System within the Bureau of Land Management. In 2008, Grijalva released a report called The Bush Administration's Assaults on Our National Parks, Forests and Public Lands,[40] which accused the Bush administration of mismanaging public land and reducing barriers to commercial access.[41]

Fossil fuel industry funding of climate change studies

On February 24, 2015, as the ranking Democratic member of the United States House Committee on Natural Resources, Grijalva sent letters to seven institutions employing scientists who disagree with most other climate scientists on man-made climate change. The letters requested information on any funding from fossil fuel companies, as well as copies of all emails concerning the content of their congressional testimony. One of the recipients, University of Colorado Professor Roger Pielke Jr., responded that he had already testified to Grijalva's committee that he has received no funding from fossil fuel interests, and characterized the letter as part of a politically motivated "'witch-hunt'".[42]

The heads of some mainstream scientific organizations criticized Grijalva's letters. Margaret Leinen, the president of the American Geophysical Union posted in her AGU blog that in requiring information only of only a few scientists, based only on their scientific views, Grivalja's action was contrary to academic freedom: "We view the singling out of any individual or group of scientists by any entity – governmental, corporate or other – based solely on their interpretations of scientific research as a threat to that freedom."[43] The executive director of the American Meteorological Society wrote in a letter to Grvalja that his action "sends a chilling message to all academic researchers," and "impinges on the free pursuit of ideas that is central to the concept of academic freedom."[44]

In response to criticism that requesting communications was counter to principles of academic freedom, Grijalva said he was willing to eliminate that part of the request.[45]

Gun Control

Grijalva supports increasing restrictions on the purchase and possession of guns and increasing enforcement of existing restrictions on gun purchase and possession.[46] He was one of the 67 co-sponsors of the 2007 Assault Weapons Ban, HR 1022.[47] Grijalva has an F rating from the NRA.[48]

Health Care

As co-chair of the Progressive Caucus, Grijalva was a prominent supporter of a public option throughout the debate over the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.[49] The House-approved Affordable Health Care for America Act included a public option — however, the Senate version did not include a similar provision, and it was ultimately not a part of the final reform package. Grijalva has largely been supportive of the health care reform law since its passage and argued the Supreme Court should not overturn it during a segment with Republican Rep. Peter Roskam, who opposes the law, for the PBS NewsHour on March 28, 2012.[50]

Grijalva has a long history in community health activism as an early supporter of Tucson's El Rio Community Health Center.[51] He supports single-payer health care, but voted in favor of the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act because he felt it was a major improvement over the status quo.[52]


Grijalva supports the DREAM Act and the Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America's Security and Prosperity Act (CIR ASAP) and has recently come to greater prominence because of his role in promoting immigration reform.[53][54] He has opposed the expansion of a border fence, citing cost effectiveness concerns and potential damage to sensitive wildlife habitats.[55] The CIR ASAP bill includes his Border Security and Responsibility Act of 2009, which prioritizes remote cameras and other border monitoring techniques with a relatively slight environmental impact. The Immigrant Justice Advocacy Campaign gave him a 100 percent score for the first session of the 111th Congress. In previous years he voted against H.R. 4437 and the Secure Fence Act, and opposed Arizona Proposition 200 in 2004.

Grijalva has criticized armed civilian groups that patrol the Mexican border, accusing them of being "racist" and has reportedly used demeaning language to describe them. In return, some supporters of the armed patrols have called him "MEChA boy" in retaliation.[2][56]

Native Americans

Grijalva is a strong supporter of sovereignty and government-to-government relationships. In April 2010 he introduced the RESPECT Act, which mandates that federal agencies consult with Native tribes before taking a variety of major actions.[57] The bill would codify a Clinton-era executive order that has never had the force of law.

SB 1070 and the Boycott Controversy

After the passage in April 2010 of Arizona's controversial SB 1070 law, which he saw as opening the door to racial profiling and granting traditionally federal immigration enforcement powers to local authorities,[58] Grijalva suggested that civic, religious, labor, Latino, and other like-minded organizations refrain from using Arizona as a convention site until the law was repealed.[59] His opposition to SB 1070, as well as his suggestion of a boycott of Arizona, was widely viewed as the reason for multiple subsequent death threats against him and his staff, which led to several office closures in the spring of 2010.[60]

When Judge Susan Bolton of the Arizona District Court enjoined major parts of the law [61] in July 2010, Grijalva ended his call for economic sanctions. As he told the Arizona Daily Star, the largest paper in Tucson:

"After this ruling, everybody has some responsibility to pause, and that includes me," said Grijalva, a Tucson Democrat. "The issue of economic sanctions is a moot point now and I will encourage national organizations I'm in contact with to come and lend a hand - not just economically, but to help us begin to educate people about how we need to fix this broken system."[62]

He subsequently said that his economic strategy was not as effective as he hoped in changing other state lawmakers' minds, and that he would focus on legal remedies in the future.[63] The issue became a focal point in the 2010 election, in which Grijalva ultimately defeated Republican challenger Ruth McClung by less than 10,000 votes.

2004 voting irregularities

Concerned about allegations of voting irregularities purportedly leading to disenfranchisement, in 2004 Grijalva joined Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson and several other House Democrats in requesting that the United Nations observe and certify elections in the United States.[64]

After the General Election, Grijalva was one of 31 Representatives who voted in the House not to count the electoral votes from Ohio on grounds of unacceptable irregularities.[65]

Giffords Shooting

After the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords, Grijalva called it a consequence of the violent rhetoric that had been used by Tea Party members. Grijalva singled out Sarah Palin's rhetoric as "contributing to this toxic climate" and stated that she needs to monitor her words and actions.[66]

Political campaigns

After the 2000 United States Census, Arizona gained two Congressional districts. The 2nd District, which had long been represented by Democrat Mo Udall, was renumbered as the 7th District. Ed Pastor, a Phoenix Democrat who had succeeded Udall in 1991, had his home drawn into the newly created 4th District and opted to run for election there, making the 7th District an open seat. Grijalva won a crowded seven-way Democratic primary, which was tantamount to election in this heavily Democratic, majority-Hispanic district. Before the 2010 election, he was reelected three times with no substantial Republican opposition. In 2008, he defeated Republican challenger Joseph Sweeney.

During the 2008 presidential campaign, Grijalva endorsed Barack Obama for President; his district, however, was won by Hillary Clinton.

During the 2010 midterms, Grijalva faced his toughest re-election campaign yet, against Republican Ruth McClung. It was reported that although Grijalva had decades of experience and McClung had none, and although there were twice as many Democrats in the district as there were Republicans, the two candidates were neck-and-neck in the polls. The main reason was Grijalva's call for a boycott of Arizona in response to the state's new immigration law, SB 1070. Grijalva won 50%-44% -- his closest margin of victory since being elected, and the first close election in what is now the 7th since 1978, when Udall was held to only 52 percent of the vote.

Grijalva's district was renumbered as the 3rd District after the 2010 census, and made somewhat more Democratic than its predecessor even though it lost some of its share of Tucson to the 2nd District (the reconfigured 8th). Co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Grijalva broke from many of his colleagues and announced his support for Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders on 9 October 2015 at a rally for Sanders in Tucson, Arizona.[67]

Electoral history

Arizona's 7th Congressional District Democratic Primary Election, 2002
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Raúl M. Grijalva 14,835 40.85
Democratic Elaine Richardson 7,589 20.89
Democratic Jaime Gutierrez 5,401 14.87
Democratic Lisa Otondo 2,302 6.34
Democratic Luis Armando Gonzales 2,105 5.80
Democratic Mark Fleisher 2,022 5.57
Democratic Sherry Smith 1,058 2.91
Democratic Jésus Romo 1,008 2.78
Arizona's 3rd Congressional District Democratic Primary Election, 2012
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Raúl Grijalva* 24,044 65.63
Democratic Amanda Aguirre 9,484 25.89
Democratic Manny Arreguin 3,105 8.48
Arizona's 7th congressional district: Results 2002–2010[68] Arizona's 3rd Congressional District Results 2012
Year Democratic Votes Pct Republican Votes Pct 3rd Party Party Votes Pct 3rd Party Party Votes Pct
2002 Raúl M. Grijalva 61,256 59.00% Ross Hieb 38,474 37.06% John L. Nemeth Libertarian 4,088 3.94%
2004 Raúl M. Grijalva* 108,868 62.06% Joseph Sweeney 59,066 33.67% Dave Kaplan Libertarian 7,503 4.28%
2006 Raúl M. Grijalva* 80,354 61.09% Ron Drake 46,498 35.35% Joe Michael Cobb Libertarian 4,673 3.55%
2008 Raúl M. Grijalva* 124,304 63.26% Joseph Sweeney 64,425 32.79% Raymond Patrick Petrulsky Libertarian 7,755 3.95%
2010 Raúl M. Grijalva* 79,935 50.23% Ruth McClung 70,385 44.23% Harley Meyer Independent 4,506 2.83% George Keane Libertarian 4,318 2.71%
2012 Raúl M. Grijalva* 98,468 58.36% Gabriela Saucedo Mercer 62,663 37.14% Bianca Guerra Libertarian 7,567 4.48%
2014 Raúl M. Grijalva* 58,192 55.7% Gabriela Saucedo Mercer 46,185 44.3%

Personal life

Grijalva and his wife Ramona have three daughters.[69]


  1. "Congressman Raul M. Grijalva: Biography". Grijalva.house.gov. October 29, 2010. Retrieved November 2, 2010.
  2. 1 2 Kammer, Jerry (October 2009). "Raul Grijalva: From Chicano Radical to Congressman". Center for Immigration Studies. Retrieved July 31, 2012.
  3. Armando Navarro, La Raza Unida Party, Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2000, pp. 204.
  4. Grijalva Elementary School in TUSD
  5. "Rep. Raul M. Grijalva Curriculum Vitae" (PDF). Retrieved November 2, 2010.
  6. "Caucus and Task Force Membership". Grijalva.house.gov. October 29, 2010. Retrieved November 2, 2010.
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  12. "Rosemont No. 1 holder of Pima mining claims" (PDF). www.broncocreek.com. January 13, 2008. Retrieved March 22, 2011.
  13. "Fearing second Gulf spill, House Dems press Interior to finish probe of platform". The Hill. November 23, 2010. Retrieved March 22, 2011.
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  21. "US Labor Against the War : Congressional Progressive Afghanistan/Pakistan Forum: Preliminary Summary". Uslaboragainstwar.org. May 13, 2009. Retrieved November 2, 2010.
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  26. Krugman, Paul (April 25, 2011). "Let's Take a Hike". The New York Times. Retrieved April 3, 2012.
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  28. Nichols, John (March 28, 2012). "A Budget For Wall Street Versus A Budget For Main Street". The Nation.
  29. "Budget of the Congressional Progressive Caucus Fical Year 2013". Congressional Progressive Caucus. Archived from the original on July 23, 2014. Retrieved April 3, 2012.
  30. Henry, Devin (March 29, 2012). "House votes down Progressive Caucus budget". MinnPost.
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  32. Lawmakers to urge BP to idle its Atlantis rig. Retrieved June 1, 2010.
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  34. Froomkin, Dan (January 25, 2011). "Congressman Accuses White House Of Putting Spin Above Science". Huffington Post. Retrieved March 22, 2011.
  35. "BP Oil Spill Confirmed as Worst in US History; Environmental Groups Challenge Continued Oil Operations in Gulf Excluded from New Moratorium". Democracy Now. May 28, 2010. Retrieved March 22, 2011.
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  37. Education for All Act GovTrack
  38. Herreras, Mari. "Currents : Beating Raúl". Tucson Weekly. Retrieved November 2, 2010.
  39. "Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan". Pima.gov. Retrieved November 2, 2010.
  40. Grijalva, Raúl M. (October 22, 2008). "A REPORT on THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION ASSAULTS ON OUR NATIONAL PARKS, FORESTS AND PUBLIC LANDS" (PDF). Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands United States House of Representatives. Retrieved October 29, 2010.
  41. Repanshek, Kurt (October 30, 2008). "Updated: Bush Administration: "A Legacy of Failure for Our Public Lands," Claims Congressman Grijalva". National Parks Traveler. National Park Advocates LLC. Retrieved October 29, 2010.
  42. Dickie, Gloria (25 February 2015). "CU-Boulder's Roger Pielke Jr. targeted by congressman over research funding". (Boulder, CO) Daily Camera. Retrieved 3 March 2015.
  43. Margaret Leinen, Protectinng academic freedom, 27 February 2015.
  44. Dr. Keith L. Seitter, Letter on challenges to academic freedom, 27 Feb. 2015.
  45. Geman, Ben (2 March 2015). "Grijalva: Climate Letters Went Too Far in Seeking Correspondence". National Journal. Retrieved 3 March 2015.
  46. Gun Issues from Project Vote Smart
  47. H.R.1022 THOMAS (Library of Congress)
  48. "National Special Interest Groups". Project Vote Smart. Retrieved April 3, 2012.
  49. Strong public option a cure for system. Retrieved June 1, 2010.
  50. "Congressmen on Political, Practical Stakes of Court's Health Reform Ruling". PBS NewsHour. March 28, 2012. Retrieved April 3, 2012.
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  53. "Grijalva Supports Comprehensive House Immigration Reform Effort, Hails Economic Benefits". Imperialvalleynews.com. December 15, 2009. Retrieved November 2, 2010.
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  55. Why environmental groups have been slow to fight the border wall. Retrieved June 1, 2010.
  56. "Callers split on border crossers, civilian patrols: TUCSON CITIZEN MORGUE, PART 2 (1993-2009)". Tucson Citizen. January 27, 2003. Retrieved July 31, 2012.
  57. "H.R.5023: Requirements, Expectations, and Standard Procedures for Executive Consultation with Tribes Act - U.S OpenCongress". Opencongress.org. Retrieved November 2, 2010.
  58. Riccardi, Nicholas (November 4, 2010). "Rep. Raul Grijalva's win in Arizona gives liberals something to cheer". Los Angeles Time. Retrieved March 22, 2011.
  59. Lemons, Stephen (April 21, 2010). "Raul Grijalva Urges Boycott of Arizona, and Scott Rasmussen Proves That a Majority of Arizonans Are Bigots - Phoenix News - Feathered Bastard". Blogs.phoenixnewtimes.com. Retrieved November 2, 2010.
  60. "BREAKING NEWS: Death threats close Grijalva's offices". KVOA.com. April 23, 2010. Retrieved March 22, 2011.
  61. "SB 1070 Largely Enjoined: The Opinion". Daily Kos. July 28, 2010. Retrieved March 22, 2011.
  62. "Boycotts going forward despite Grijalva's plea". Arizona Daily Star. July 29, 2010. Retrieved March 22, 2011.
  63. "Grijalva explains boycott cancellation". KVOA.com. August 3, 2010. Retrieved March 22, 2011.
  64. "House members will discuss request to United Nations to monitor election". Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson. Retrieved December 18, 2008.
  65. "Final Vote Results for Roll Call 7". clerk.house.gov. January 6, 2005. Retrieved April 3, 2012.
  66. Grim, Ryan (January 8, 2011). "Grijalva: Tea Party Must Look At Their Own Behavior". Huffington Post. Retrieved July 29, 2012.
  67. Rappeport, Alan (2015-10-07). "Bernie Sanders Gets First Congressional Endorsement, From Raúl Grijalva". The New York Times - First Draft. Retrieved 2015-10-09.
  68. "Election Statistics". Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives. Retrieved January 10, 2008.; for 2008 see United States House of Representatives elections in Arizona, 2008
  69. "Congressman Raul Grijalva: Biography". House.gov. Retrieved November 9, 2010.

Further reading

United States House of Representatives
New constituency Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Arizona's 7th congressional district

Succeeded by
Ed Pastor
Preceded by
Ben Quayle
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Arizona's 3rd congressional district

United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Scott Garrett
United States Representatives by seniority
Succeeded by
Jeb Hensarling
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