Washington lawmaker apologizes for calling Arizona “racist wasteland”

Dec 23, 2013, 6:13 PM | Updated: Jan 6, 2014, 12:14 pm
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Democratic Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon raised plenty of eyebrows with a tweet about Arizona after the Seahawks lost to the Cardinals Sunday. Fitzgibbon later deleted his message and said in an interview that people were taking his trash talk a little too seriously. (Via Twitter)
(Via Twitter)

What was meant to be a joke after the Seahawks frustrating loss to the Arizona Cardinals has turned into a big-time embarrassment for Democratic Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon.

The Burien area state lawmaker has drawn plenty of ire after tweeting “Losing a football game sucks, losing to a desert racist wasteland sucks a lot.”

Fitzgibbon tells KIRO Radio’s Jason Rantz he’s sorry, and spent Monday apologizing for painting the entire state with a broad brush.

“I legitimately felt like I said something that was wrong and was hurtful and I’d rather be on record with folks knowing that’s not how I really feel.”

Still, Fitzgibbon says people in Washington state “have not appreciated” how Arizona has treated immigrants, particularly citing a 2010 immigration law that was subject to a legal challenge from the federal government. He said Arizona leaders need to look at changing laws that he believes amount to racial profiling.

One of the 2010 Arizona law’s requirements is that officers, while enforcing other laws, question the immigration status of those suspected of being in the country illegally.

Still, Fitzgibbon says he learned some valuable lessons including not to mix politics with sports, and to keep his mittens on after such an emotional loss.

“All I can do is learn from it and let folks know I’m sorry for the way it made them feel,” he says.

The Cardinals’ 17-10 win in Seattle on Sunday kept their postseason hopes alive while snapping the Seahawks’ 14-game home win streak. Fitzgibbon’s comment was posted shortly after the game.

Washington state Republican Rep. J.T. Wilcox said in his own post on Twitter that Fitzgibbon’s message “makes us all look bad.”

Fizgibbon has since deleted his post.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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Washington lawmaker apologizes for calling Arizona “racist wasteland”