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Senator Steve Smith on Future Recall Elections

By Senator Steve Smith

The following opinion piece appeared in the Arizona Republic on December 19th:

The Republican state senator talks about his plan to make it tougher to recall Arizona legislators.

Why do you want to make it more difficult to recall a state lawmaker? 

We just witnessed how the radical left has used the recall system to defeat an opponent they could not and would not have been able to defeat in a standard election. I believe this is a gross misuse of our recall system. I believe one should be recalled because of an egregious act committed or a proven inability to be effective in one’s job.

Do you expect the successful Pearce recall to open the floodgates of more recalls? 

Based on what has been said recently, this is clearly what the radical left wing is trying to do. They went after Russell Pearce and now they stated they are going after Governor Brewer, Sheriff Arpaio, and have threatened to do the same to other Republicans.

Do you think state government was harmed by losing Russell Pearce from the Legislature? 

Absolutely. Russell Pearce is an honest and fair man, and quite frankly, one of the best legislators this state has ever had. Under his leadership last session alone, we now have a jobs bill that will put more Arizonans back to work, a legitimately balanced budget for the first time in years, pension reform and much more.

You want to require signatures from a majority of voters in the district before a recall can be triggered. Why this approach? 

I believe the majority of the people (50 percent plus 1) should decide if an elected official should be recalled or not. Currently, 25 percent of the electorate is needed to initiate a recall, which means typically any political demographic can initiate the recall. The recall process should be a nonpartisan movement in which the majority of the people unify in response to an egregious act by the elected official.

Democrat attorney Paul Eckstein says lawmakers proposing this simply want to protect themselves from recall. Is this your motivation? 

I believe that if the right wing started using the recall system as the left wing has done and continues to do, Democrats like Paul Eckstein would soon agree with my position. Again, although a recall can be initiated for any reason, it should only be used when the majority of the people want it to occur.

Do you think the Pearce recall will soften the Legislature’s approach to immigration? 

No and nor should it. Remember, the people of Arizona have spoken time and again at the ballot box about this issue. Each time there has been a proposition relating to cracking down on illegal aliens, Arizonans by very wide margins (over 70 percent in most instances) have voted in favor of doing so.

Do you think your caucus will be able to work with recall winner Jerry Lewis? 

The Republican caucus is a strong and mighty force with many moral, constitutionally sound, and patriotic leaders. Although Russell Pearce will be greatly missed, I believe the Republican caucus will continue to effectively lead Arizona.

What do you think will be the important consequences of the Pearce recall? 

The biggest consequence of course is the loss of Russell Pearce for this upcoming session. Beyond that, other consequences would be that maybe others will decide to play dirty like the Democrats did and will initiate recalls.

Guest Opinion: Ellsworth to Pearce: ‘Move On’

By Brent Ellsworth

In an article ominously, but I’m sure inaccurately, titled, “Senator Russell Pearce: Final Remarks,” posted November 10 on a local political blog, Senator Pearce provided his explanation of why he was soundly defeated two days earlier by his Republican challenger, Jerry Lewis.

Among other things, the Senator confidently stated: “Pretty much all political observers acknowledge that I would have not lost the race in a normal election. . . In a recall election, there is no primary. . . In a normal election, he [Lewis] would have had no chance [against me] in the primary . . .”

Senator Pearce is still trying to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the recent special election because he is annoyed that every registered voter was eligible to vote. In a closed Republican primary, where all prior Pearce victories have been determined, only Republican voters are allowed to vote.

This is a classic example of “Denial,” the first of several predictable steps grief counselors tell us are common in the grieving process after a severe personal loss.

There are a couple of ways you can tell Russell Pearce is stuck in the Denial phase.

Pearce’s claim regarding a hypothetical primary election is contrary to the hard data. A recent independent poll and the double-digit margin of victory by Jerry Lewis raise doubts that a victory by Senator Pearce in a primary election would be a slam dunk. An ABC15 / Arizona Capitol Times poll taken just prior to the election showed that among Republican voters in LD 18, Jerry Lewis had a slight advantage over Senator Pearce. Combine that with the embarrassingly small amount of money raised by Pearce from within his own district, and it doesn’t take a Carville or a Rove to conclude that Senator Pearce may overestimate his current level of support among Republican voters in LD 18.

The conduct of Senator Pearce since the election has been disappointingly unpatriotic and boorish. Our society rightfully expects a minimum standard of decorum and respect for the political process from those who lose elections. Granted, this is unfamiliar territory for Pearce, who is not experienced in the awkward etiquette of political defeat, including the obligatory phone call to congratulate the victor and the graceful but painful concession speech.

We all watched Senator Pearce give his defiant “non-concession” concession speech on election night after the outcome was certain. The press was so confused by the speech they had to ask Pearce’s media spokesman, former TV meteorologist, Ed Phillips, if Pearce’s remarks were, in fact, a concession. Having placed his wet finger to the wind, the dutiful Phillips covered for his boss, and explained that no matter how the speech sounded, it was intended to be a concession speech, and they should take it as such. In other words, “This is as much of a concession as you’re going to get from the Senator, who is not real happy right now.”

Compare the concession speech of Senator Pearce with that of Al Gore in 2000, who arguably had much more reason to be bitter in defeat than does Senator Pearce.

Here are a few quotes from Mr. Gore, whose comments transcend political party and ideology: “Just moments ago, I spoke with George W. Bush and congratulated him on becoming the 43rd president of the United States. . . Tonight, for the sake of our unity of the people and the strength of our democracy, I offer my concession. . . History gives us many examples of contests as hotly debated, as fiercely fought . . . Each time, both the victor and the vanquished have accepted the result peacefully and in the spirit of reconciliation. So let it be with us. I know that many of my supporters are disappointed. I am too. But our disappointment must be overcome by our love of country. . . While we yet hold and do not yield our opposing beliefs, there is a higher duty than the one we owe to political party. This is America and we put country before party. We will stand together behind our new president.”

Somewhere along his political path, Senator Pearce lost his vision of the “higher duty” described by Mr. Gore. Pearce wasted a golden opportunity on November 8th to recapture that vision and behave like a true statesman by gracefully congratulating Senator Lewis, accepting the clear voice of the voters of his district, and calling on his “Patriots for Pearce” to join him in moving forward in a spirit of reconciliation and healing, rather than one of continuing rancor and division.

Once Senator Pearce gets through this first step of Denial, perhaps he will allow others to help him navigate the remaining four stages of grief, which are: Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and, finally, Acceptance.

Brent Ellsworth, a Mesa attorney, resides in Legislative District 18.

More Election Analysis from Stan Barnes & Jay Thorne on KAET’s Horizon

Missed this from last Thursday but that’s why we have YouTube.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Es1JzCJ2Zow

The bottom line on the Pearce recall was that the election was a very high profile abnormal gaming of the electoral process.

Two for One: Recall of Two Democrats in Legislature Being Considered

Sonoran Alliance has learned that a group of conservative activists are considering launching recalls on two Democrat members of the Arizona Legislature.

The conservative group is citing egregious and “conduct unbecoming” activities of the two Democrats who they believe are too extreme to represent the image of Arizona.

A recall election could pose a serious problem for Democrats when the next legislative session convenes in January as they attempt to build for the 2012 election cycle.

Republicans would certainly gain the upper hand in the legislative session with Democrats scrambling to address recall challenges brought on by scandals.

The group, who has asked to remain anonymous until filing any committee organization papers, is also preparing to take on liberal activists who were behind the Pearce recall effort. They believe the recall electoral process can be used just as effectively by conservatives as it was by the left.

All this begs the question whether recall elections will be the new political weapon of choice between Arizona’s conservatives and liberals?

Sen. Sylvia Allen: Democrats’ Method of Governing: Boycott Meetings and Start Recalls

Senator Sylvia Allen

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 9, 2011
CONTACT: Mike Philipsen

(STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX) – As Republicans prepare for another legislative session focused on getting Arizona back to work and improving our economy, Democrats have embraced a curious strategy of boycotting meetings and threatening recalls against Republicans who don’t vote with them.

“Recalls have never and were never meant to be used against lawmakers whose sole fault was they disagreed with you on the issues. They’re designed to target people who may have committed crimes or were guilty of gross misconduct in office,” says Senator Sylvia Allen, President Pro Tem of the Senate.

“But Democrats are now talking about making this their go-to strategy. Contact some outside interests, pay people to collect signatures, and bingo, you have a recall election. This is no way to govern.”

Democrats also boycotted meetings for the recent Joint Legislative Committee on Redistricting, even though many members of their party complained about the draft maps and the process.

Democrats are also twisting last night’s recall election results into a referendum against enforcement of illegal immigration. SB 1070 remains widely popular in Arizona, and the bulk of the law is being enforced in our state.

“SB 1070 mirrored federal immigration law. We must have legislation like this, because there is no physical barrier at the border. The border is not secure,” says Senator Allen.

# # #

Who’s Next? Arredondo or Arpaio?

In August, we ran a post asking why Randy Parraz was not targeting the 2nd worst offender in the Fiesta Bowl scandal – State Representative Ben Arredondo. After all, Parraz and crew were adamant that one of the major reasons the recall was taking place was because of corruption over the Fiesta Bowl.

Yesterday’s recall election was a major success for Randy Parraz and crew. They made political history by defeating a sitting State Senator and placed the “trophy political kill” of Russell Pearce on their wall.

With their success behind them, will Parraz and crew now be intellectually consistent in their agenda of cleaning up the corruption by pursuing the recall of State Representative Ben Arredondo?

Perhaps Parraz’ comment from an interview with the Arizona Republic on election night will shed some insight where he intends to take his leftist political machine next:

Parraz said he and his allies may go after other politicians whom he blames for poisoning Arizona’s political discourse, singling out Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was at Pearce’s side throughout the recall campaign.

“We’re looking at other people, like Sheriff Arpaio,” Parraz said. “If that’s the type of politics Sheriff Arpaio wants, we’ll see what happens in the new year.”

Parraz’ political agenda has never been about cleaning up corruption – especially the kind of corruption Democrats thrive on. It’s about taking down elected officials who are strong on immigration policy. Parraz’ motives are racially based and align with the La Raza agenda. And he will use that racial hatred to divide communities and bolster his political resume.

So who’s next on Parraz’ political hit list? Arredondo or Arpaio?

Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Weekend Vids: Schapira vs. Kavanagh, Lewis vs. Pearce & Gullett vs. Stanton

It’s Time to Recall Rep. Ben Arredondo in the Spirit of Consistency: Update: Who’s Next? Arredondo or Arpaio?

Watching the recall effort take place in legislative district 18 one is left wondering why other recalls are not taking place elsewhere across the state, especially in legislative district 17.

Pearce recaller and failed Democratic US Senate candidate, Randy Parraz, likes to cite public policy differences as the reason for recalling Russell Pearce but fails to mention any of the other State Senators or Representatives who also voted for these same pieces of legislation.

Mr. Parraz, why not seek recall efforts against any of the other legislators who voted for these same public policy proposals? And if your motive is to recall someone who you disagree with on public policy issues, why haven’t you made a practice of this during all the off-year elections since you cannot seem to win elections (including your own) during the regular election cycle.

Pearce recaller’s motives don’t make sense if this is only about disagreements on public policy.

That’s why Pearce recallers like to bring up the Fiesta Bowl scandal as another reason for recalling Senator Pearce. They argue that Pearce accepted in-kind donations from Fiesta Bowl representatives over several years and then voted on legislation that affected the Fiesta Bowl.

Hmmmm… I thought that’s how lobbying worked at the State Capitol, especially when it comes down to labor and teachers unions donating gobs and gobs of money to Democrats.

What Pearce recallers fail to mention and the hypocrisy is GLARING, is that Fiesta Bowl representatives also gave in-kind donations to other legislators. At the top of the list is Legislative District 17 State Representative, Ben Arredondo who actually voted a $6,450,000 MILLION subsidy to bring the Insight Bowl from Phoenix to Tempe. Maybe a little more clarification on the gifts to Arredondo from a third party is appropriate at this point. Here’s what the Arizona Republic wrote on May 13th:

Gifts to Arredondo 

Arredondo, a former teacher and coach, was running for Tempe City Council in 2001 when seven Fiesta Bowl employees made $875 in contributions to his campaign. Three years later, four employees made another $1,200 in contributions. 

At that time, the Fiesta Bowl was headquartered in Tempe and played its game in ASU’s Sun Devil Stadium. 

In 2005, the Fiesta Bowl was looking to move its sister game, the Insight Bowl, out of downtown Phoenix. Negotiations began with Tempe, which was looking to replace the Fiesta Bowl at Sun Devil Stadium since the Fiesta was moving to Glendale. One of the key negotiators was Arredondo, according to Tempe Mayor Hugh Hallman. 

“It’s fair to say Ben Arredondo was intimately involved with ASU, Insight and the Fiesta Bowl,” Hallman said. “Ben Arredondo was continually involved in negotiations.” 

Hallman said Arredondo also was close to Husk, who, in addition to lobbying for the Fiesta Bowl, had been a paid consultant for Tempe. 

After reaching a memorandum of understanding in July 2005, the city the following year agreed to give the Fiesta Bowl a $6.45 million subsidy to host the Insight Bowl through 2013. The subsidy for each of the next two years is $850,000, while the final year’s payment is $900,000, according to the contract. 

In 2007, 2008 and 2009, the Fiesta Bowl said it provided Arredondo with expensive National Football League tickets, including 2009 Super Bowl tickets worth $4,000. In summer 2009, the bowl said, he called saying he wanted to go on a trip. The bowl paid all expenses for Arredondo and his wife, Ruthann, to travel to Minnesota to watch a college football game. 

“We paid for everything: the game, the hotel, the meals and the airfare,” Anthony Aguilar, the bowl’s director of community and corporate relations, told Fiesta Bowl investigators. 

Arredondo did not return calls to his house, where messages were left with his wife. Ruthann Arredondo declined to answer questions. 

On April 1, after the Fiesta Bowl investigative report had been released, Arredondo amended his financial disclosure forms for 2007, 2008 and 2009 to show he received a gift worth more than $500 from the Fiesta Bowl. The amended 2009 form indicates his wife also received a gift. The nature of the gifts was not disclosed.

Where am I going with all this? Here’s my point: The recall effort against Russell Pearce is NOT really about public policy. And it’s not even about the Fiesta Bowl in-kind donations.

The recall effort against Russell Pearce is about people who hate and don’t like Russell Pearce. It’s about working voters up into a rabid frenzy mob mentality to go after someone who you can later say, “We took down Russell Pearce!” If this was a regular election year, these frothing folks would not have anything to rally around because they’d be defending their own political turfs from an electorate that votes right of center. This is about Randy Parraz building a list of people to be exploited elsewhere against another Republican.

So my big question is why won’t the Parraz-led recallers be consistent and also recall Representative Ben Arredondo? The reality is they won’t because Arredondo votes the way they want him to vote.

My challenge is for them to stop being hypocrites and mount a recall effort against Ben Arredondo. And if they can’t find it in themselves to be intellectually honest and consistent, maybe its time for another group to form and recall Ben Arredondo.

UPDATE – November 9, 2011: 

The Recall election was a major success for Randy Parraz and crew. Election night, Parraz made the following statement to the Arizona Republic:

Parraz said he and his allies may go after other politicians whom he blames for poisoning Arizona’s political discourse, singling out Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was at Pearce’s side throughout the recall campaign.

“We’re looking at other people, like Sheriff Arpaio,” Parraz said. “If that’s the type of politics Sheriff Arpaio wants, we’ll see what happens in the new year.”

Don’t say we didn’t warn you…