Russell Pearce Endorses Robert Graham for Chairman, Arizona Republican Party

Robert Graham

“I believe Robert Graham has the ability to work with Republicans across this great state to strengthen this Party and to build on our successes.”

PHOENIX – Today, Russell Pearce, former Arizona Senate President and a tireless advocate of conservative principles, endorsed Robert Graham for Chairman of the Arizona Republican Party.

“I wholeheartedly endorse Robert Graham for Chairman of the Arizona
Republican Party,” said Pearce. “As a consistent Constitutional conservative, I believe Robert Graham has the ability to work with Republicans across this great state to strengthen this Party and to build on our successes. I know that Robert Graham will work hard to make Arizona a more prosperous and safer state, and to put more Republicans in responsible leadership positions.”

“Russell Pearce’s service to Arizona and conservatism has not gone unnoticed or unappreciated,” said Graham. “I am grateful to have his endorsement, and I look forward to receiving his counsel on how to build a stronger Republican Party in Arizona. As your Chairman, I will fight to ensure that voices like Russell’s are heard and appreciated in our party.”

About Robert Graham

Robert Graham is a conservative activist and AZ business leader. He was a leader in the fight against taxes and the destruction of our party system, successfully working with the grassroots to defeat propositions 121 and 204 in the 2012 election. Congressman Trent Franks, Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery, Arizona House Majority Leader David Gowan, Speaker Pro-Tempore JD Mesnard, Rep. Justin Olson, Rep. Steve Montenegro, Maricopa County Chairman Rob Haney, and numerous Arizona conservative leaders have endorsed Graham to lead the Arizona GOP.

To learn more about Robert Graham and his plan for Arizona’s Republican Party, please visit his website at www.GrahamForArizona.com or his Facebook page. 

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Pro-Immigrant Republicans React to AZ Election Results: AZ Turning Purple!

Phoenix, Arizona – National pro-immigration GOP group Cafe Con Leche Republicans today reacted to Arizona’s election results.

Nationally, the election results show the Republican Party needs to fundamentally change the way the GOP engages with Hispanics, who overwhelmingly voted for Obama, especially the tone on immigration. According to a Pew Research polls, 62% of Hispanics are center-right ideologically, yet Mitt Romney received 23%, barely one third of that. Just eight years ago President Bush received over 40% of the Hispanic vote.

Mitt Romney received bad advice and focused messaging to Hispanics on the economy and largely ignored immigration. However, as Marco Rubio said “It’s very hard to make the economic argument to people who think you want to deport their grandmother.

In 1994 California Gov. Pete Wilson jumped on the anti-illegal immigration Proposition 187 bandwagon to bolster his flagging reelection poll numbers. Proposition 187 drove legions of conservative Hispanics from the GOP, and the GOP has not been competitive in statewide races in California ever since.

Arizona has been the scene of some of the harshest rhetoric on immigration, and this week’s election results show many Arizonans, especially Hispanics, reject extremism on immigration, and while they want secure borders, they also want practical and humane solutions to our broken immigration system.

For a ‘deep red’ state, this week’s results show that extremism on immigration is hurting the Republican Party in Arizona. Normally Arizona’s U.S. Senate seats are ‘safe’ for Republicans because Arizona is a very conservative state, but Jeff Flake received a bare majority, just 50.01%, in his U.S. Senate race against a Democratic candidate with considerable personal baggage.

It is rare for Libertarian candidates anywhere to receive more than 1% of the vote, but in Arizona many Libertarian candidates received well over 1% in competitive three-way races, while the Libertarian presidential candidate received 1.29% in Arizona versus 0.9% nationally. Here are the Libertarian Party unofficial results in competitive three-way races in Arizona from the Arizona Secretary of State web site:

U.S. Senate 4.38%
Congressional District 1 – 5.88% (Republican Jonathon Paton lost to Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick, 48.49% – 45.54% due to Libertarian vote)
Congressional District 3 – 4.37%
Congressional District 4 – 3.7%
Congressional District 6 – 3.29%
Congressional District 9 – 6.35% (Republican Vernon Parker lost to Democrat Kyrsten Sinema, 47.81% – 45.71% due to Libertarian vote)
Legislative District 8 Senator – 4.9% (Republican Joe Ortiz lost to Democrat Barbara McGuire, 48.68% – 46.32% due to Libertarian vote)

Libertarian party values and positions are much closer to conservatives than liberals, and it is apparent many conservatives voted Libertarian in protest against the Arizona GOP’s heavy tilt into extremism in recent years. In Congressional districts one and nine, and senator from LD 8, it is apparent the Libertarian candidate siphoned enough votes away from the GOP candidate that the Democrat won the election!

It would be easy to attribute the Libertarian protest vote to other reasons, but in the 2010 election Libertarian Andrea Garcia won 9% of the vote against Russell Pearce, one of Arizona’s most notorious immigration extremists, the second highest ever for any Libertarian candidate in a competitive three-way race. Andrea Garcia was a GOP activist for many years, before moving to Mesa and finding an unwelcome climate in the GOP there, and switching to Libertarian.

Another Republican activist for many years, Blanca Guerra, left the GOP and ran as a Libertarian, in large measure due to the hostility she encountered. Blanca was one of Cafe Con Leche Republican’s founding members, and initially ran as a GOP candidate for CD 3 before leaving the GOP (and Cafe Con Leche Republicans) to run as a Libertarian. In reviewing election results for CD 3 over a period of years shows candidates with more extreme views on immigration lose by larger margins.

A welcome exception to Arizona’s trend towards purple is Bob Worsley’s election as Senator in LD 25. Bob Worsley is a conservative Mormon, who has been pastor in a predominately Hispanic Church, spent years overseas as a missionary in Latin America, and has sensible views on immigration and understands immigration and Hispanics. Not surprisingly, he won handily against his Democratic opponent, and also handily defeated Russell Pearce in the GOP primary.

It’s time for a wave of change in the Arizona GOP. Arizona is clearly turning purple, and a high percentage of Hispanics, Arizona’s fastest growing demographic is voting Democrat, despite generally conservative values. We’ve lately heard rumors that Russell Pearce may become Arizona’s next state chairman. In our opinion, electing Russell Pearce as Arizona GOP Chairman would be catastrophic for the GOP. If anything Pearce should step down as First Vice-Chair, as he is one of the most polarizing figures in Arizona politics today. It’s time to return the Arizona GOP to the Party of Lincoln, following Reagan’s “big tent” model rather than shrinking the GOP base into something more of a ‘pup tent.’

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About Us – Cafe Con Leche Republicans is a national organization of Republicans who welcome “New Americans”, defined as immigrants and family of recent immigrants. Our mission is to make America and the GOP, more welcoming to “New Immigrants” through political activism, “in-reach” and education within the Republican Party, and lobbying government to adopt more immigrant friendly policies. We also seek to bring more conservative and moderate “New Americans” to the Republican Party. These efforts will strengthen the GOP, and lead more Republicans to embrace welcoming policies for immigrants and their families. We have members nationwide, with chapters in Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Texas, Oklahoma, Arizona, and California. Our members and leadership are predominantly Hispanic, though we define ourselves by mission and guiding principles, not ethnicity, and we welcome all who share our goals. Our leadership is 100% Republican.

(original link)

Response to Bob Worsley’s inaccurate comments about ALRA

Whether he did so intentionally or simply spoke out of ignorance of the prevalence of politically conservative Latinos, Bob Worsley made a serious miscalculation. He has mischaracterized the Arizona Latino Republican Association (ALRA) as having been formed for the sole purpose of endorsing Russell Pearce. He likened the decade old conservative grass roots efforts of ALRA together with another unrelated organization. He insulted all of Arizona’s conservative Latinos by suggesting that no Latinos would legitimately endorse Russell Pearce. ALRA will not be drawn into interpreting the motivations behind Worsley’s messaging regarding any other organizations. However, the offensive comments he made this morning on KFYI merit a response that will set the record straight about ALRA.

Here are some facts that accurately describe the history, purpose and success that is the Arizona Latino Republican Association:

  • ALRA has been in existence for over 10 years as the only voice of Arizona’s conservative Latinos
  • We are the only statewide Latino organization capable of articulately communicating with voters and media in both in English and Spanish
  • Our membership includes Republican Precinct Committeemen, Tea Party Patriots and a number of elected Republican officials
  • 14% (4 out of 29) of the Arizona delegates that will be seated at the 2012 Republican National Convention are current ALRA members
  • ALRA has achieved unprecedented growth and established a chapter of conservative Latinos in the City of Tucson. We are also currently in the process of expanding to other cities and states alike
  • Most importantly, ALRA endorsed Russell Pearce for Senate in LD 25 because he is the only candidate who consistently advocates the rule of law and who also enjoys a proven record of conservative leadership

It is unfortunate that Mr. Worsley either failed to investigate these facts for himself or purposely ignored them before he maligned our efforts as well as the significance of Arizona’s conservative Latinos. It is also unfortunate that Barry Markson/KFYI did not challenge or even question any of those offensive suppositions. Any inquiries regarding the nature, mission and significance of ALRA can easily be answered by going to our website- LatinoGOP.org. We invite both Mr. Worsley and KFYI to do their homework and review our website before making any more inaccurate or offensive statements regarding ALRA or the conservative Latinos we represent.

Reymundo Jiménez Torres
President, Arizona Latino Republican Association

ALRA Releases Its Primary Candidate Endorsements

MESA, ARIZONA (July 11, 2012) – In light of the unprecedented importance placed on the 2012 electoral cycle, the Executive Board of the Arizona Latino Republican Association (ALRA) decided to break with its former practice and officially vet and endorse some primary candidates.

After a review of the candidacies and political platforms of the Republicans in various key races, the ALRA Executive Board has taken formal votes to decide which candidates are most in line with our conservative platforms and values. The result of those votes is as follows:

  • Maricopa County Sheriff – Joe Arpaio
  • Congressional District 3 – Gabriela Saucedo Mercer
  • Congressional District 5 – Matt Salmon
  • Legislative District 8 Representative – T J Shope
  • Legislative District 13 Representative – Steve Montenegro
  • Legislative District 21 Representative – Rick Gray
  • Legislative District 21 Representative – Debbie Lesko
  • Legislative District 25 Senator – Russell Pearce
  • Gilbert Justice of the Peace – James Estrada

Congratulations to all on receiving ALRA’s endorsement of their respective campaigns. We look forward to working with all of them to strengthen the conservative representation that is vital to the future dignity, security and prosperity of the people of Arizona.

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Evening Fundraiser for Russell Pearce & Lester Pearce

Bob Worsley on KAET’s Horizonte discussing the race in LD-25, Hispanic vote

A discussion with Bob Worsley, the Mesa businessman who founded SkyMall the in-flight catalog, about his run for the District 25 Arizona state Senate seat. Worsley also discusses the Hispanic vote and SB-1070 and the LDS Church.

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Ice Cream Social Fundraiser for both Russell and Lester Pearce

Russell Pearce Statement on today’s tragic events in Gilbert

Our prayers and thoughts are with the surviving family members and friends of the victims of today’s horrific and evil act. There are no words to adequately express the sadness we share, as a community, with those affected.

I spent much of my day resisting efforts by those in the media to get me to make a statement. Today’s events have nothing to do with me and no connection to me. Yet TV news crews started coming to my home seeking comments and my telephone rang nonstop with calls from those who were desperate to score the ugliest of political points off of this tragedy. Now my name is being mentioned in coverage and I have no choice but to respond.

Regarding whether I knew JT Ready, I did, as did many of us who have been involved in Mesa politics for a long time. When we first met JT he was fresh out of the Marine Corp and seemed like a decent person. He worked as a telephone fundraiser for Christian and pro-life groups, he dated the daughter of one of our District 18 members, and his attitudes and spoken opinions were good and decent. At some point in time darkness took his life over, his heart changed, and he began to associate with the more despicable groups in society. They were intolerant and hateful and like so many who knew him from before, I was upset and disappointed at the choices he was making. I worked with others to have him removed from his local position within our Republican Party because there has never been and will never be any room in our Party or our lives for those preaching hatred. He was angry with me and stayed angry with me, and it has been several years since I have had reason to speak with JT.

In the past several years the local media has worked hard to try to tie me to the JT Ready that preached hate, and that is nothing more than a lie. When I learned the truth about him, I made it clear how wrong I thought it was and I worked to remove him from our Party. Yet the lie is told and retold over and over again. It is the ugliest form of politics. The most radical groups I have ever belonged to are the Boy Scouts of America and the Fraternal Order of Police, and in my 65 years in Mesa, as a law enforcement deputy, as a judge and as the head of state agencies, I have never been accused of mistreating anyone or of unfair conduct toward anyone I have associated with, hired or supervised.

Finally, while I am frequently critical of the job the mainstream media does in pursuing a political agenda instead of the truth, today’s behavior is the most reprehensible that I have ever witnessed. On the very day that these unspeakable crimes take place, editors and producers all over town are making a concerted effort to make the story about a politician whose conservative politics they disagree with.

Today, the Devil won and claimed the soul of one young man and the lives of others, including the most innocent of all, a child. Our thoughts and prayers are with the four beautiful souls that are now in God’s hands. We pray that He accepts them into his kingdom and that he grants comfort and solace to the friends and surviving family.

Sen. Rich Crandall – Coward or “Practical”

After the new legislative district lines came out a few months ago, there was much speculation (and anticipation), about the potential AZ Senate matchup between would-be comeback kid Russell Pearce and his top Senate Republican nemisis Rich Crandall.  The consensus pointed to Crandall getting crushed by Pearce.

After all, in 2010 Crandall lost over 40% of the vote to newbie challenger James Molina, even though Molina dropped out of the race almost a month before early ballots.  Even a charitable view of this outcome points to a 20%+ protest vote against Crandall – a HUGE number for a relatively low profile state legislative race.

Fast forward to March.  First, Crandall announced he was retiring and endorsed wealthy LDS RINO Bob Worsley against Pearce.  Then soon after, Crandall filed run in the new LD16 against freshman Rep. John Fillmore.  Crandall will have to move to run in LD16, which he justifies by noting his kids go to school there.  He’s been drafted to run, you see, because the state would be unable to sustain itself without the benefit of his insight on education.

The truth is somewhat less flattering for him.  First, the Elites, who Crandall loves to consider himself a leader among, threw him under the bus because they knew he’d lose to Pearce.  He tried to make it look like his idea so it wouldn’t be so obvious.  But since he wants a position in a national educrat organization that requires that he be a sitting legislator to be eligible, he decided to carpetbag over to LD16, where he would avoid facing Pearce.

All Arizona conservatives should hope that the voters of LD16 who aren’t as familiar with Crandall as his abandoned district will see through his conservative facade and recognize the coward that is underneath.

Russell Pearce Responds to Bob Worsley Attack

RUSSELL PEARCE CALLS FOR BOB WORSLEY TO END NEGATIVE CAMPAIGN, JOIN HIM IN STANDING WITH ARIZONA’S FAMILIES

(Mesa) - On Tuesday, Bob Worsley’s campaign attacked me and like-minded Arizonans for our efforts to draw attention to–and business away from–the Phoenix New Times and its corporate owner, The Village Voice. While hypocritically attacking me for some imagined “divisive rhetoric,”  Worsley’s campaign offered a strangely disconnected defense of the Phoenix New Times while asking voters to draw a connection between Congressman Raul Grijalva and me. Worsley’s rhetoric was obviously meant to be divisive, but he could not pick a more ill-fitting pair than Grijalva and me.

“What do Russell Pearce and Raul Grijalva have in common?”  asked his press release. The answer is nothing. I’m a proven conservative, Raul is a committed liberal. I have a 100% pro-life, pro-family, pro-Second Amendment voting record; Raul’s is the opposite. I helped to write and pass Arizona’s Jobs Bill and led the passage of the first truly balanced state budget in years, while Grijalva passed ObamaCare and voted for trillion dollar budget deficits. My actions led to job creation and economic growth, while Grijalva’s led to recession and depression. I wrote and passed SB1070 to enforce our nation’s immigration laws, while Grijalva opposed our efforts and wrote that the bill was bad for Arizona.

Come to think of it, so did Bob Worsley. You wouldn’t know that he wrote about it because he deleted part of his writings just after he announced for office, but the same Bob Worsley who wants to attack me for non-existent commonalities with Raul Grijalva wants voters to ignore (or better still, never find out) that he shares his illegal immigration ideology with Raul.

In his desperate attempt to try to connect me to Grijalva, Worsley jumped the shark and decided that attempts to change the business practices associated with the New Times and its owner were morally equivalent to Raul Grijalva calling for a boycott of the entire State of Arizona because he disagreed with SB1070 and enforcing the law.

It is worth revisiting the Phoenix New Times and The Village Voice to learn more about the people that Bob Worsley is defending.

According to media reports, The Village Voice and its family of newspapers account for 70% of all prostitution advertising in the United States. 48 State Attorney Generals and 19 U.S. Senators–Republicans and Democrats alike–have called on them to stop running sex ads which have been tied to child sex trafficking, and which collectively finance a national operation of hate campaigns against conservative individuals and organizations, elected officials and public servants, law enforcement and others. Investigations into these crimes have led to more than 50 arrests in 22 states. Millions of tainted dollars flow into the coffers of these publications and those paying the price are too often themselves victims of the most horrible crimes imaginable. Human trafficking and child and adult prostitution are horrific, and it is right and justifiable that decent people here in Arizona and across the country draw attention to these crimes and act to hold businesses that profit from them responsible.

While our effort to let advertisers know the truth about these publications is brand new, we have already been rewarded because the great people at Harkins Theaters and Buddy Stubbs Harley Davidson have pulled their advertising. Bob Worsley accused me of threatening Harkins Theaters, but his accusations were wildly off the mark. The good folks at Harkins run a decent, family-oriented business, and they are much better off today knowing the truth about where their advertising dollars were going. And the people of Arizona will reward Harkins with even more business for being a responsible and family-friendly corporate citizen.

SB1070 was about enforcing laws to keep people safe. Liberals like Raul Grijalva and Bob Worsley opposed SB1070 and Grijalva went so far as to call for a boycott of his own state because he was mad that it was going to enforce the law.

Exposing the New Times and its corporate model is about exposing human exploitation, indecency, and alleged illegality. Bob Worsley, Sean Noble, and the rest of his political team oppose our efforts because they are desperate to attack me with a ludicrous comparison to Raul Grijalva. In so doing they take the side of an entity that profits off of some of the worst crimes imaginable.

I am disappointed in Bob and his campaign, both for the position they are taking, the negativity with which they are beginning this campaign, and the very same divisive rhetoric they would accuse me of.

I hope that Bob will change his mind and join those of us who are working to expose these practices. Decent Arizonans from all over this great state are rallying to the effort and we certainly have room for Bob, Sean and the rest of his team. We can and ought to be able to agree on the need to end the exploitation of children, and I hope that political ambition does not prevent Team Worsley from getting on the right side of this very important issue.

The citizens of our district deserve an honest and decent debate on the issues facing our state. I hope Mr. Worsley will drop his attacks and join me in that effort.

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Bob Worsley: What do Russell Pearce and Raul Grijalva have in common?

(Mesa) – Recently, Senate District 25 candidate and Ban Amnesty Now (B.A.N.) president Russell Pearce called for a boycott of more than 230 Arizona restaurants, hotels, retailers, festivals, concerts, car dealers and community events. Pearce and his supporters have called for a boycott of notable Arizona businesses and events including:

  • * Harkins Theaters
  • Oregano’s
  • Valley Chevy Dealers
  • Cox Communications
  • Arizona Renaissance Festival
  • Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts
  • Maricopa County Fair
  • Mesa Arts Center (location of February’s GOP presidential debate)
  • Rio Salado College

More than 200 other businesses – including 33 in the City of Mesa alone – were targeted for a boycott by Pearce and BAN for advertising in the Phoenix New Times, a free weekly newspaper. Pearce and his staff have accused the paper of being a “leftist”, “pro-lilegal alien” media source.

“Russell Pearce is orchestrating a boycott against Arizona businesses simply because they advertised in a free weekly paper he disagrees with,” said Republican Bob Worsley, who is challenging Russell Pearce in the Mesa Senate Republican primary. “B.A.N.’s founder is on record stating that this business boycott is being implemented because of the New Times’ views on immigration. I have my disagreements with the New Times, but I will not do anything to hurt Arizona businesses.”

“Liberal Democratic Congressman Raul Grijalva called for a boycott of Arizona businesses after Senate Bill 1070 passed. It was wrong of Grijalva to penalize Arizona’s businesses then and it’s wrong for Russell Pearce to target them now.”

Sean Noble, a Worsley consultant, commented, “Russell Pearce can tell the voters he cares about jobs and the economy, but he’s proven once again that he’s unable to move beyond divisive rhetoric. These businesses employ thousands of Arizonans. It’s incomprehensible that anyone would call for a boycott that aims to damage Arizona business when our economy is still hurting.”

More about Bob:

Bob Worsley is a conservative Republican businessman running for State Senate district 25 in the heart of Mesa. Bob Worsley has been an East Valley resident for more than 30 years and has been married to his wife Christi for 33 years. They have 6 children and 16 grandchildren.

Bob is running in the newly created Senate District 25 because he wants to use his business experience to find common sense solutions to the state’s problems and to strengthen our local economy. Bob believes Mesa deserves a better tomorrow and a brighter future.

Bob’s priorities for the Senate District 25 and the City of Mesa were recently highlighted in his first web video.

To learn more about Bob, visit his website: www.BobWorsleyforSenate.com or visit his Facebook page: www.facebook.com/BobWorsleyforSenate

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Senator Russell Pearce predicts Supreme Court will uphold SB1070

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 7, 2012
CONTACT: Sen. Russell Pearce

Ban Amnesty Now president says America’s highest court will not turn back on states’ rights

PHOENIX—Senator Russell Pearce, the author of SB1070 and newly-appointed president of America’s largest grassroots anti-illegal immigration organization, said today the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to hear arguments on Arizona’s contested SB1070 legislation was great news for every legal U.S. citizen.

“When the activist judges in lower federal courts bowed to Barack Obama’s whims and put illegal aliens ahead of American citizens, undermined the Rule of Law, they followed in the president’s footsteps in perpetrating a great injustice against our nation, our citizens Constitutional rights and the state of Arizona,” said Pearce.

“We are a nation of fifty sovereign U.S. states, not a nation of 50 subservient states to be dictated to by a Big Brother leviathan. When the Supreme Court rules, I expect that Washington will learn an important lesson in its proper role, not just on immigration but in its role in governance,” Pearce said.

“We send far too much money to Washington for this to be the treatment we get in return. Sovereign U.S. states and legal U.S. citizens were never meant by our Founding Fathers to become penniless orphans in some Twilight Zone version of a Charles Dickens story, begging for scraps from an all-powerful, dictatorial federal government which waves full ladles of nourishment above our heads but never pours anything into our bowls,” said Pearce.

“When the Court rules, I expect power to return to the states, and Ban Amnesty Now by then will be working diligently to pass SB1070-style legislation in all 50 states, like Alabama, South Carolina and Georgia already have” he said. “The president can sue every state if he pleases, or he can get out of the way while we do the job Washington won’t in protecting our great nation from illegal aliens.

“I fully expect we, the legal citizens of Arizona and America, will win in the Supreme Court on SB1070, just as we did with Arizona’s Employers Sanction Law, the toughest in the nation, which goes after illegal employers and protects American jobs and was upheld five-to-three in the Supreme Court,” said Pearce.

While 6 of the 10 provisions of SB1070 were upheld, four main provisions of the contested SB1070 were blocked from implementation by lower courts, including:

(1) requiring law enforcement officers to make a reasonable attempt to determine the immigration status of a person stopped, detained or arrested if there is reasonable suspicion that person is an illegal alien;

(2) creating a crime of failure to apply for or carry “alien-registration papers”;

(3) permitting the arrest of an illegal alien in which there is probable cause to believe the individual committed a public offense that makes him or her removable from the U.S.; and,

(4) making it a crime for illegal aliens to solicit, apply for or perform work.

“America is greater than any one man, than any one president,” said Pearce. “I believe the court will rule on the side of law, our Constitution, and states’ rights, and that we will prove our nation can indeed work again. This will be an important ruling, an important milestone, in a long road ahead to restoring the rule of law, America’s economy, political and national security.”

# # #

Jerry Lewis Won a Republican Primary

By Tyler Montague

A Response to Senator Steve Smith

In his comments about recall elections the other day, Senator Steve Smith said, “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.”

The publicly-funded, freshman Senator from Pinal County may have some useful ideas for reforming the recall process.  (I feel we should get rid of paid petition circulators for recall elections!)  But Smith’s reference to the Pearce/Lewis election demonstrates a lack of understanding of what happened on the ground in Mesa.  More harmful to Republicans is that perpetuation of the “leftist takeover” narrative by Smith and others prevents some of the analysis and valuable learning that should be happening as a result of Lewis’ victory. Neither a “flawed recall process” nor “the radical left” caused Senator Pearce’s defeat.

Lewis won by a 12-point margin.  The financials, the polls, and the final vote tallies stubbornly support the case that Lewis would have won if this election had been a Republican primary.

The numbers
Registered Democrats comprise only 26% of LD18; which means they can’t impose their will on anyone.  They accounted for 28% of the vote total in the recall election, and of those, it is estimated that 36% of Democrats voted for Russell Pearce.  Republicans have many more LD18 voters, who further amplify their influence with a tendency to vote at a much greater rate.    Republicans formed 49% of the vote.  Republicans and Independents did the heavy lifting to get to the 55%-43% final margin of victory.

The Arizona Capitol Times conducted a poll the week before the election and found that 36.4% of Democrats were planning to vote for Russell Pearce.  If you start with that assumption, then assume Independents voted roughly in proportion to the final totals, Republicans ended up voting 51%-49% in favor of Lewis.  The actual votes by party are not published, so we must use polling.  The 36% Democratic vote for Pearce, and the slight Republican advantage for Lewis are both consistent with the Capitol Times poll and internal polling conducted by the Lewis campaign.  It is possible that Lewis performed better than the polls said among Democrats or Independents, which would lower his percentage among Republicans.  But one has to remember that Independents are allowed to vote in a primary of their choice, so Lewis would still win in a hypothetical “primary” vote created by removing all Democratic votes from the total.

Poll-based assumptions, fitted to the official vote tally

Party

Pearce

Lewis

Cortes

 

Total

Pearce

Lewis

Cortes

DEM

36%

61%

2.42%

 

6472

2356

3959

157

GRN

10%

90%

   

36

4

32

0

LBT

50%

50%

   

147

73

73

0

OTH

41%

56%

2.36%

 

5097

2107

2870

120

REP

49%

51%

   

11459

5582

5878

0

                 

23210

10121

12812

277

Total

23210

10121

12812

277

It is impossible to know for certain how Lewis would have fared in a regular primary without the media attention, efforts by independent groups on either side, and without some of the trickery that ultimately backfired on Pearce.  The recall scenario didn’t break all in Lewis’ favor.  We know the special circumstances of the recall may have persuaded large numbers of Republicans to vote for Pearce, when they might have chosen another candidate in a normal primary.  They bought into the Pearce Campaign’s relentless arguments that the recall was a left-wing attack against the Republican Party, and that it was time for people to choose teams rather than evaluate candidates on merit.  It was a tactical error of the Lewis team to not counter by pointing out that Pearce himself had supported a recall effort against Sheriff Dupnik earlier in 2011 and said that the threshold for recalls was appropriately high.  We also could have reminded people that Pearce ally, EV Tea Party Chairman Greg Western, initiated a recall against fellow Republican Rich Crandall the year before.  Pearce’s hypocrisy, along with information like the ruling by the Arizona Supreme Court, which reaffirmed Constitutional language stating that recall elections do not require allegations of wrongdoing by elected officials, may have swayed some of those Republicans to drop their anti-recall-based support of Pearce. 

So what does it mean?
Many lessons of this election are portable.  The first point:  Pay attention to your constituents.  Pearce’s statewide and national list of endorsements was impressive, but Lewis lined up the majority of the leaders in Mesa, and voters trusted the people they know personally.  If donations were an indication of support, Lewis did a good job getting people in his district to invest in his campaign, and a review of Lewis’s donor list, debunks the “outside leftist radicals” story very nicely.  Lewis got 67% of his money from Mesa, 43% came from LD18, and only 2% from outside the state.  Even though he massively outspent Lewis, Pearce only got 4% of his money from LD18.  It doesn’t matter as much how popular you are beyond your constituency—they can’t vote for you.

The second point:  Priorities.  Voters felt that more attention needed to go to the economy and jobs and education.  Over and over again in meetings with small groups, voters said they felt like their priorities were taking a backseat to ideological hobbies.

A third point:  Voters said yet again in this election that they do not like dirty campaigning or angry politics.  The candidates at the top of the campaign can do a lot to set the tone, and can control their followers to a large degree.  The well-documented language and tactics used in this election may have made the final difference in the outcome.  You cannot take someone like Jerry Lewis, a highly respected, longstanding moral leader in the community, who as a seminary teacher had taught hundreds of students from hundreds of families throughout the district, and make scurrilous claims that “he steals from homeless children,” without being punished by voters for such offensive, unfounded, and overreaching slander.  Future candidates for office should look closely at this election and think long and hard about hiring consultants who promote such tactics.

Finally, any election involving Russell Pearce is also an election about immigration, and there are several things to learn here.  First is that people who oppose illegal immigration and support SB1070 and other tough laws, are not a mutually exclusive group separate from those who want solutions that would keep families together and let people rectify themselves with the law without necessarily deporting them.  There is significant overlap.  Dr. Bruce Merrill and the Morrison Institute for Public Policy released a survey last month of Arizonans that indicated 78% of heads of households favored, “…legislation that would allow these people to be put on a path to becoming American citizens if they have no criminal record either where they came from or here in Arizona if they pay a fine for coming into the country illegally, get a taxpayer I.D. number and demonstrate they can speak English.”  Republicans favored such measures by 69%.  Pearce and allies tout 70% support for SB1070, but then make the mistake of deriding those who oppose mass roundups or the equivalent of starve-outs as “open-border anarchists opposed to the rule of law.”  This alienates people, particularly those in the religious and business communities who feel we could tackle immigration problems in a way that solves the problem, helps the economy, and honors our Judeo-Christian values, without necessarily handing citizenship to millions who didn’t come here the right way.

Pearce’s tone on immigration alienates Hispanics.  Latinos favored Lewis by more than 3:1 according to polls.  That number alone should spark discussion about the way the Republican Party approaches the immigration issue.  Anyone looking at projected growth rates from the U.S. Census will see Hispanics’ rapidly growing role in American politics.  Many Hispanics are social conservatives with a tradition of working hard and wanting to keep the fruits of their labor—in other words, many Latinos should resonate to core messages of the Republican Party.  Yet they are put off by the angry rhetoric surrounding the immigration debate.  Arguments to secure the border and to deport felons or freeloaders make sense to most of us; but leaders who point to criminals as justification to round up farm workers and dishwashers present a non-sequitur that makes more sense to Hispanics when explained by xenophobia or racism.  While some Latinos support the approach championed by Pearce, one out of four Hispanic votes will not win the elections of the future for the Republican Party.  The approach championed by Pearce is politically short-sighted.  The Republican Party needs better leadership on the issue of immigration.

Spending too much time fretting over the recall provision in the Arizona Constitution will prevent conservatives from making the adjustments the Pearce recall should catalyze.

Tyler Montague is a lifelong Mesa resident who helped recruit and campaign for Jerry Lewis.  He currently serves as a vice-chair of the LD18 Republicans.

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.

Will the Utah Compact Derail Mitt Romney’s Campaign?

By Former Arizona State Senator Karen Johnson

One of the biggest obstacles Mitt Romney faced when he ran for President in 2008 was the fear that, if elected, he would take orders from the President of his Church. Like the Catholic Jack Kennedy in his 1960 race for the presidency, Romney, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), had to overcome the uneasy suspicion that the head of his church would dictate public policy. To dispel such fears, Romney gave his memorable “Faith in America” speech in which he stated:

“Let me assure you that no authorities of my church, or of any other church for that matter, will ever exert influence on presidential decisions. Their authority is theirs, within the province of church affairs, and it ends where the affairs of the nation begin.

“As governor, I tried to do the right as best I knew it, serving the law and answering to the Constitution. I did not confuse the particular teachings of my church with the obligations of the office and of the Constitution – and of course, I would not do so as president. I will put no doctrine of any church above the plain duties of the office and the sovereign authority of the law.

“As a young man, Lincoln described what he called America’s ‘political religion’ – the commitment to defend the rule of law and the Constitution. When I place my hand on the Bible and take the oath of office, that oath becomes my highest promise to God. If I am fortunate to become your president, I will serve no one religion, no one group, no one cause, and no one interest. A president must serve only the common cause of the people of the United States….We separate church and state affairs in this country, and for good reason. No religion should dictate to the state nor should the state interfere with the free practice of religion.”

Romney’s speech was generally well received, and it appeared that he had put the matter to rest. Unfortunately, the question of LDS Church influence has roared to life again in 2011, with indications that it could affect the 2012 elections.

It began in November, 2010, when a group of Utah businessmen, politicians, newspaper publishers, and various church denominations launched a list of principles they felt should guide immigration policy. They called it the Utah Compact. Although the LDS Church likely received considerable pressure to sign on to the Compact, they declined to do so. However, they DID issue a news release stating that they endorsed the principles of the Compact. In addition, a few prominent church employees signed the Compact, which added to the perception that the Church endorsed it.

The Compact was filled with vague, benevolent statements that implied that amnesty is the solution to our immigration ills. Many members of the LDS Church then embraced amnesty because they thought their church did.

The first test of the Compact came in the 2011 legislative session in Utah. Roughly 80 percent of the members of the Utah legislature are also members of the LDS Church. Church employees roamed the halls of the Utah capitol lobbying Representatives and Senators for their vote in favor of immigration bills pushed by the supporters of the Utah Compact. Refusal to support those bills was viewed as rejection of the Compact and, by extension, disobedience to the President of the LDS Church. The vote on these immigration bills became a test of the LDS legislators’ allegiance to their Church. LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson never personally lobbied for the bills, but the Church-owned newspaper, the Deseret News, blared its support for both the Compact and the immigration bills, and employees from the Church Public Communications office continued to lobby every day. The message heard by Utah’s LDS legislators was: “If you don’t vote for these bills, you will be disobeying the President of the Church.”

In addition to being a test of one’s allegiance to the LDS Church, the Utah votes were also a test of the LDS legislators’ fidelity to their oath of office. Many of the legislators did not support the proposed immigration bills, but they felt pressured to comply with what they perceived to be the wishes of their church. The choice was between making a correct policy decision or obeying the LDS Church. In the end, many of the Utah legislators caved in. When faced with a clear choice between performing their duties as elected officials or obeying the perceived dictates of the LDS Church, they threw their oath of office out the window and voted the way they thought their Church leaders expected. It wasn’t the first time that Utah legislators changed their votes to conform to the wishes of the LDS Church contrary to their own best instincts. So much for Mitt Romney’s insistence that an elected official would never be influenced by the leaders of the LDS Church. The Left has correctly perceived that obedience to Church leaders is an important value among members of the LDS Church, and they have figured out how to use that to manipulate LDS elected officials.

The image of [some] Utah legislators scurrying about, wringing their hands, and holding their breath as they watched for a sign from church leaders on how to vote is even more sickening when one realizes that it was left-wing, radical, Marxist groups that were pushing the immigration bills (and the Utah Compact) behind the scenes. But things got infinitely worse when the Compact promoters went national.

In early 2011, community organizers fanned across the country laying the groundwork for Compacts in other states. In Arizona, advocates of the Utah Compact launched a recall campaign against the LDS State Senate President, Russell Pearce, the hero of the nation on immigration reform and border security. A 2010 Pearce bill (SB1070) had created hysteria on the Left when it triggered a nationwide rush for similar enforcement bills in other state legislatures. As the author of SB1070 and a prominent national leader on immigration enforcement, Pearce became the bull’s-eye in the target of Leftist radicals who organized to take him out. Pearce’s opponents ran a nasty but effective campaign based on character assassination, voter recruitment, and alienation of the many LDS voters in Pearce’s Mesa, Arizona, legislative district.

The opponents announced their strategy early in the recall campaign. DeeDee Blase, head of Arizona’s Somos Republicans, an open borders advocacy group, said: “The biggest win with regard to our efforts is getting a special supporter who is a devout member and a member of the high council of the Mormon Church. We have scheduled lectures that will be specifically aimed to members of the LDS community as well as the business community. We know that Mesa has a Mormon stronghold, and in order for us to have an overall effective campaign, we must win over the Mormon community. It is imperative for them to know that Russell Pearce (a member of the LDS community) refuses to listen to the Mormon Prophet, and he refused to uphold the Constitution of the United States.”

The accusation was a lie. Pearce is a strong constitutionalist and a devout and active member of the LDS Church. Most important, suggesting that he “refused to listen to the Mormon Prophet” was a trap. If he protested that he was obedient to the prophet and supported the Utah Compact (which was a call for amnesty), he was dishonoring his oath of office and violating the wishes of many of his constituents, not to mention his own knowledge of the crisis on our borders. If he proclaimed that he was NOT dictated to by the leaders of his Church, he appeared to be disobedient to his church leaders, which would sully him in the eyes of many of the LDS voters in his district, who view obedience to church leaders as a standard of honor. There is no way for an LDS candidate for office to defend himself against such an accusation.

Blase’s accusation revealed that the recall campaign would promote a religious test for holding office. “Obey the Mormon Church or you’re not qualified for election.” Pearce was repeatedly accused of being disobedient to his Church leaders because of his strong views on immigration. His opponent was portrayed as a choir boy who obeyed the prophet. It cost Pearce votes among LDS voters.

Blame for this dilemma goes not to the Marxist radicals who ran the campaign against Pearce or even to the LDS Church hierarchy, which had lobbied hard for the Utah immigration bills and seemed to support the Utah Compact. The blame goes entirely to the members of the LDS Church in Pearce’s legislative district who swallowed the false argument that Pearce’s highest duty as an elected official was to satisfy the wishes of the LDS Church.

Some Mesa LDS businessmen who support amnesty joined forces with the radical Left to take Senator Pearce down. One of these men, Daryl Williams, an LDS attorney who did not live in Pearce’s district but actively campaigned against him, gave firesides (an LDS cottage meeting) and seminars on the Utah Compact, never missing a chance to say that Senator Pearce was violating church doctrine. In a promo for one of his firesides, Williams proclaimed:

“Russell Pearce, the chief proponent of Arizona’s immigration laws is, like me, a Mormon. His views, however, do not reflect the official position of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the official name of the Mormon church. Indeed, Mr. Pearce’s views are inconsistent with the official position of his church.” (See here.)

Williams’ message was that Senator Pearce should shut up and do what the President of the LDS Church wanted, regardless of his oath of office or his duty to his constituents.

In one interview, Williams stated, “I believe that Mr. Pearce’s position [to enforce the law against illegal immigrants] is inconsistent with policy statements that have been promulgated by the church.” He added, “I personally do not think that you could be a faithful Christian or faithful Mormon and take such … positions ….”[1]

Williams promoted the religious test throughout the campaign. In an Op Ed in one of Arizona’s major papers, Williams declared, “Mormons and other Christians who advocate sealing the borders and the mass deportation of immigrants are out of sync with the official position of the Mormon Church.”[2] According to Williams, a candidate does not deserve to hold public office unless he stays “in sync” with the “official position of the Mormon Church.”

Williams, an attorney who should know better, has created a new standard for members of the LDS Church who want to run for office. The standard is that they must meet a religious test in order to run. The test is obedience to the leaders of the LDS Church. Such a standard is unconstitutional, of course. It is also the death knell for LDS candidates for office. Outside of Utah, Mormons are a distinct minority group. They cannot get elected with the votes of only LDS Church members. They must appeal to a broad base of voters of all faiths, and they must be able to honestly assure the public that their allegiance is to the Constitution, not to the policies of their Church.

Almost singlehandedly, Daryl Williams created an image of LDS elected officials bowing to the wishes of the LDS Church. That perception, of course, is odious to those who belong to other churches. The general public will reject an LDS candidate for office whom they perceive will be a puppet for the LDS Church.

Some LDS Church members in Mesa, Arizona, bought the religious test and voted accordingly. Losing the vote of LDS constituents who mistakenly perceived that he had disobeyed their Church leaders contributed to Pearce’s defeat. This message wasn’t lost on the national media. The Washington Post stated in an editorial recap of the election that “Immigration was a factor in his defeat ­ in large part because the Mormon Church decided that it should be.”[3]

You can be sure that others have gotten the message loud and clear. Mitt Romney’s 2007 “Faith in America” speech aside, many people are wondering once again what a Mormon candidate for political office will do when faced with a decision that appears contrary to the position of the LDS church leadership. Can Romney be trusted to secure the borders, since it appears that the leaders of the Mormon Church want amnesty? Regardless of any tough statements on border security that he might make during the campaign, will he ultimately betray the public on immigration if the LDS Church sends him a cue? What role does the LDS Church really play in politics?

The LDS Church has on occasion taken strong positions on moral issues such as abortion, homosexual marriage, and the Equal Rights Amendment. Churches have every right to take a position on moral issues, of course. They also have a right to take positions on policy issues, such as immigration. Church voices are important in public debate. However, elected officials must always remember that when they vote on a particular bill, they are acting as elected officials, not representatives of their Church.

They wear a different hat when they vote on legislation. At those moments, they are duty-bound to exercise their best judgment on an issue, based on months of study, committee hearings, discussions with experts and constituents, and in line with the state and U.S. Constitutions. At that brief moment in time when they cast their vote, they must honor their oath to the Constitution. They must not put the wishes of the Church ahead of their duties as elected officials.

The Arizona recall campaign spells trouble for Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign. I am not a Romney supporter but, if the public perception grows that LDS officeholders are expected to take orders from their Church leaders, then it will be goodbye to the possibility of an LDS candidate becoming President. Furthermore, qualified, talented LDS Church members will find it increasingly difficult to get elected to public office. That is a shame, because LDS Church members are patriotic and are strong supporters of the Constitution. I am LDS myself, and I know many good LDS elected officials. But LDS candidates will be rejected if the public believes they will put orders from their church leaders ahead of their legislative duties and their oath of office. If that happens, members of the LDS Church will have only themselves to blame for swallowing the idea that LDS candidates must pass a religious test to get elected. There is no religious test for office in this country.

Footnotes:

  1. “Stormin Mormons,” AZ Capitol Times, Aug. 8, 2011.
  2. “Williams: A Mormon’s View on Immigration,” Op Ed, Arizona Republic, Oct. 22, 2011.
  3. “Arizona Recall: Why Russell Pearce Lost,” Washington Post, November 9, 2011.

© 2011 Karen Johnson – All Rights Reserved

Guest Opinion: Winner of Arizona Senate Recall: Immigration Law Not the Issue

Very interesting perspective on the election of Jerry Lewis in the recent recall election. The article, appearing in Human Events, was written by Political Editor, John Gizzi, who explains that liberals are all wrong about the conclusion of Lewis’ win.

There are plenty of new revelations in the article that I certainly missed during the campaign leading up to the election. In fact, Mr. Lewis’ comments in this article completely validate my earlier points that the recall was overwhelmingly about style over substance. Given Lewis’ comments in this article, I have to wonder if Randy Parraz and fellow recallers now regret their decision to help Jerry Lewis get elected?

Here is that article:

Since the nationally watched recall election last month that resulted in the ouster of the architect of Arizona’s controversial illegal immigration law, the liberal media has been claiming a major victory. Because former State Senate President Russell Pearce was a conservative Republican, goes the crowing from the Left, his defeat was a blow to the Right and to SB 1070, the Pearce-crafted measure signed into law by Republican Gov. Jan Brewer last year that permits police to ask for immigration papers if they have “reasonable suspicion” someone is in the U.S. illegally.

But that analysis and conclusion over what happened in Pearce’s Mesa district Nov. 8 is pure moonshine.

Veteran state legislator Pearce was ousted by a fellow conservative stalwart named Jerry Lewis. When we got done repeating all the quips about his being mistaken for the world-famous comedian, and how he met up with the former Arizona state treasurer named Dean Martin (“Arizona’s own Martin and Lewis team”), the 55-year-old Lewis told HUMAN EVENTS last week about his own conservative philosophy, and what led him to finally run in the race after initially saying, “No way.”

“When [Pearce] was exploring a bid for Congress for the seat of Jeff Flake [who is running for the U.S. Senate], a number of people urged me to run for his state senate district,” said Lewis, a nine-year stake president in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and superintendent of the Sequoia Choice Arizona Distance Learning charter school. “I said, ‘No, thank you,’ that I wasn’t a politician and wasn’t interested in running.”

Earlier this year, Pearce opted against a congressional race. But a movement known as Citizens for a Better Arizona secured thousands of signatures from voters, surpassing 25% of those who voted in the last election, as Arizona law requires for a recall, and thus placed question of his continued tenure in the senate on the November ballot.

Regarding the recall movement, Lewis told us: “I never supported it and would not sign the petition. I felt that whatever people thought of the incumbent, he had not violated any laws, and you knew where he stood.”

Lewis decided to run, he told us, “Because I saw too much time and money spent by politicians attacking one another, and too little attacking issues voters cared about.” He added that his much-voiced distaste for career politicians finally convinced him “to step up to the plate and do something about them.” Pearce, a former deputy sheriff, has served in the state house and senate, and was once state motor vehicles commissioner.

In campaigning for Pearce’s seat, Lewis emphasized the themes of the economy and employment, calling for lower taxes—the legislature’s vote to reduce taxes on corporations was “a step in the right direction,” he said—and eliminating regulations that keep businesses from creating jobs in the state. In addition, the longtime charter school leader called for greater choice for parents in education.

Did he oppose the immigration law that is Pearce’s signature cause? Lewis replied without hesitation: “No, not at all. [SB 1070] certainly raised the specter of awareness on this issue among voters, and it was a proper response to the problem, considering that no one else—no one at the federal or state level—is doing anything about the problem.”

But, he added, “I still believe it wasn’t a balanced approach. Before taking a step like this, I would have said, ‘Secure the borders first.’ And then our congressional delegation has to force the issue and engage the federal government in stopping illegal immigration.”

Lewis said that as much as voters agreed with 1070, many also felt that Pearce was focusing too much on illegal immigration and not enough on jobs and the economy. Last month, Lewis unseated Pearce with 54% of the vote. When he was sworn in days ago, Lewis formally declined to participate in the pension program for state legislators, saying that voters should not be burdened with paying for his retirement.

The inevitable final question from us was whether, with such a recognizable and well-liked name, would Jerry Lewis consider a bid for higher office?

“No way,” he shot back. “I’m not a career politician, remember?”

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.