- U.S. congressman from Arizona
- Former member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus
- Announced in 2014 that he would retire in January 2015
Ed Pastor was born on June 28, 1943 in Claypool, Arizona, to a family of Mexican-American ancestry. After earning a BA in chemistry from Arizona State University (ASU) in 1966, he taught that subject at a Phoenix high school and subsequently served as deputy director of the Guadalupe Organization, a local community-service group. In 1971-72 Pastor was a staffer for Arizona’s Democratic Governor Raul Castro, and in 1974 he earned a JD from the ASU School of Law.
Pastor sat on the Maricopa County (Arizona) board of supervisors from 1976-91. In September 1991 he won a special election to fill the U.S. House of Representatives seat vacated by 68-year-old Morris Udall, who had recently retired after 30 years as a congressional Democrat from Arizona. Pastor’s campaign received a great deal of support from Lorenzo Torrez, the longtime chairman of the Arizona Communist Party and a member of the Communist Party USA‘s National Committee.
As a member of both the Congressional Progressive Caucus and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Pastor was thereafter re-elected by large margins in every House election from 1992 through 2012. He represented Arizona’s 2nd congressional district from 1991 until 2003, at which time it was renumbered as the 4th congressional district—a majority-Latino region located entirely in Maricopa County. In 2013 it was renumbered again, this time as the 7th congressional district.
In 2002 Pastor was part of a small “fact-finding” delegation that had a friendly meeting with Fidel Castro in Havana. Admittedly charmed by the dictator, Pastor and his companions subsequently called for an immediate end to U.S. trade sanctions against Cuba.
On December 6, 2006—three days before the 25th anniversary of the murder of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner by former Black Panther Party member Mumia Abu-Jamal—Pastor was one of 31 U.S. House Members (all Democrats) who voted against a resolution “condemning the decision of St. Denis, France, to name a street in honor of … Abu-Jamal.”
Although he was a Roman Catholic, Pastor adamantly believed that all women should have an unrestricted right to abortion-on-demand at any stage of pregnancy – subsidized by taxpayers, in cases of economic hardship. He had a 100% pro-choice voting record according to the abortion-rights group NARAL. In 2003 Pastor voted against a ban on intact dilation and extraction, commonly known as partial-birth abortion. The following year, he voted against a bill that would have imposed additional criminal penalties on a perpetrator who harmed or killed a fetus during the commission of a crime against a pregnant woman.
On other matters of import, Pastor believed that:
- public and private employers alike should be legally required to implement affirmative-action hiring and promotion policies that give preference to African Americans and women, as compensation for historical injustices;
- the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), which Pastor co-sponsored, was an excellent statute that should serve a strategic stepping stone toward the eventual implementation of a government-run, single-payer healthcare system;
- the principle of church-state separation is inviolable and should preclude permitting prayer in the public schools, or the posting of the Ten Commandments in public places;
- voucher programs designed to enable low-income parents to send their children to private schools rather than to failing public schools, constitute bad policy because they rob the public schools of vital resources;
- more guns in the hands of private citizens inevitably result in higher levels of crime, thus the availability of firearms should be restricted by whatever means are effective;
- wealthy people should be required to pay much higher tax rates than those who earn less;
- restrictions on immigration are basically racist because they tend to prevent Hispanics and other non-whites from entering the United States;
- social services should be available to all U.S. residents regardless of their immigration status;
- illegal aliens should be offered amnesty if they have been productive members of society;
- voter ID laws make it unnecessarily difficult for people to vote;
- an ever-increasing reliance on “green energy” sources such as wind and solar should be put in place, along with the phasing out of fossil fuels, the imposition of carbon taxes, and the raising of vehicle CAFE standards;
- federal spending on infrastructure projects and job programs is crucial to the success of any economic recovery program;
- the nationalization of banks and corporations is preferable to federal bailouts of those entities.
A former board member and chairman of the National Council of La Raza, Pastor over the years has received vital political support from the Democratic Socialists of America and its Political Action Committee.
Pastor retired from the House of Representatives in January 2015.
He died on November 27, 2018.
For an overview of Pastor’s voting record on a variety of key issues during his career in Congress, click here.
Further Reading: “Ed Pastor” (Votesmart.org, Keywiki.org, Ballotpedia.org); “Arizona’s Three Communist Affiliated Congressmembers” (TrevorLoudon.com, 7-27-2013); “Fact-Finding” in Fidel-Land” (by Humberto Fontova, June 2018, re: Pastor’s 2002 meeting with Castro); “[House Vote on] H.RES.1082: Condemning the Decision by the City of St. Denis, France, to Name a Street in Honor of Mumia Abu-Jamal” (ProPublica.org, 12-6-2006); Ed Pastor’s Positions on Key Issues (OnTheIssues.org).