Ed Pastor



  • 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 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 injured himself in a fall and retired after 30 years as a congressional Democrat from Arizona. As a member of both the Congressional Progressive Caucus1 and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Pastor was thereafter re-elected by large margins in every congressional 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.”

A co-sponsor of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) in 2010, Pastor favors the continued expansion of that legislation; he strongly supports affirmative action programs that give preference to nonwhite minorities and women in workplace hirings and promotions; he advocates a steeply progressive income tax; he advocates comprehensive immigration reform that offers amnesty or a pathway-to-citizenship for illegal aliens; he holds the U.S. and other industrialized countries responsible for global warming and favors the imposition of carbon taxes as a means of punishing polluters; he advocates the raising of CAFE standards for American automobiles; he urges the U.S. to abide by the conditions of the Kyoto Protocol, a 1997 international agreement that set binding greenhouse-gas-reduction targets for 37 industrialized countries; he contends that the best way for the United States to inject life into its economy would be for the federal government to spend heavily on stimulus bills and job-creation initiatives; he advocates dramatic cuts in the size of the U.S. military and its annual budget; and he favors the withdrawal of all American troops out of Europe, Japan, Korea, and other places where they are currently stationed.

Although he is a Roman Catholic, Pastor has a 100% pro-choice voting record according to the abortion-rights group NARAL. In 2003 he 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.

Pastor adamantly opposes voucher programs that would enable low-income parents of children who attend failing, inner-city public schools to send their youngsters instead to private schools with superior track records; he rejects the notion that the right to bear arms is a basic Constitutional right; he opposes formulaic sentencing statutes like “Three Strikes” laws that mandate harsh punishments for certain crimes regardless of the circumstances; he believes that the death penalty constitutes “cruel and unusual punishment” and thus should be abolished; and he maintains that the Social Security program should remain forever under federal control, opposing even the smallest measure of privatization as unduly risky.

By Pastor’s reckoning, the principle of church-state separation should prohibit taxpayer funding for religious organizations, the displaying of the Ten Commandments in public places, and prayer or the use of the phrase “Under God” when reciting the “Pledge of Allegiance” in public schools.

A former board member and chairman of the National Council of La Raza, Pastor over the years has received political support from the Democratic Socialists of America and its Political Action Committee.

In February 2014, Pastor announced that he planned to retire from the House of Representatives in January 2015.

For an overview of Pastor’s voting record on a variety of key issues during his career in Congress, click here.


1 Pastor remained a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus until 2014.

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