Voters elected Campbell in December, but only after he'd made his amends to the anti-immigrant constituency. His trajectory is pure Gilchristification: in 2000, The Orange County Register reported that Campbell, then a state assemblyman, thought illegal immigrants should receive the same benefits as citizens "since the federal government has not controlled the border to prevent the immigrants from coming in." In 2002, Campbell voted to allow illegal immigrants in state universities to pay in-state tuition and approved the use of Mexican government-issued ID cards for official purposes.
But following his collision with Gilchrist, Campell renounced such positions, claiming state Democrats deceived him into the votes. Now, his official congressional website notes that the congressman arrived in Washington "prepared to tackle our nation's most pressing issue, illegal immigration. Within days of being sworn in, he introduced and successfully passed an amendment to the Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005."
Gilchristification doesn't pacify true believers, however. Allan Bartlett, an Irvine resident and Republican who runs the widely read Powder Blue Report (powderbluereport.blogspot.com), says rank-and-file Republicans aren't satisfied with the likes of John Campbell. "Deep down inside," he said before Campbell's December victory, "the [Republican] party bosses know that the silent majority of their members support Jim and what he has done."
Indeed, they do. The evidence came Monday. In a widely distributed e-mail, longtime local activist Duane Roberts described how peaceful demonstrators on the corner of Bristol Street and McFadden Avenue in Santa Ana were suddenly met by officers swarming out of vehicles—60, by Roberts' count. Officers on horseback rode through residential streets; cops shoved people to the ground for no reason. Roberts fled the scene until things settled down.
"After the army of cops retreated, the only visible property damage one could see was graffiti that somebody sprayed on local businesses," Roberts wrote. "On the wall next to a convenience store I bought a bag of chips and a soda from, somebody wrote the words 'Mexico, don't hate.'"