By Monica Alonzo
By Ray Stern
By New Times Staff
By Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Monica Alonzo
By Stephen Lemons
By Robrt L. Pela
Moreover, minutes from a September LD 19 meeting, where a pro-Pearce resolution was proposed, reveal that Lester Pearce advocated for the senator and against the recall. He once blocked videographer Dennis Gilman and me from questioning a Pearce supporter who circulated Cortes petitions. On another occasion, he violently grabbed Gilman's camera as I peppered him with questions.
These are mere examples of what has turned off Mormon and non-Mormon Republicans from supporting Pearce in the recall effort.
There also are the lies, many of them from the senator's own mouth, including his contention during one recent Republican gathering that the LDS church backed Senate Bill 1070, the controversial "papers please" law, whose "intent" is making "attrition through enforcement" state policy.
Though the Mormon Church, headquartered in Utah, officially has rejected an enforcement-only approach to immigration and supported the Utah Compact — which calls for a humane, common-sense approach to the issue — it was forced to contradict Pearce's statement and reiterate its view that even those in the United States illegally are "children of God."
The thing is, untruths, half-truths, and distortions fly from Pearce's mouth as regularly as spittle.
I cornered the senator after the same LD 18 meeting where he misspoke about the LDS church's support of 1070 and asked him about his contention that he had never taken campaign contributions from the Fiesta Bowl, despite the $40,000 worth of free trips and football tickets for him and his family that he had accepted.
I noted that several Fiesta Bowl executives donated to his 2010 re-election campaign, and he denied it out of hand. When I began to list names, including former CEO John Junker and his wife, he acted like this was news to him.
At Hohokam Stadium, the canards continued. He bragged that he had fostered a "constitutionally balanced [state] budget."
In reality, Arizona suffers from an $8.5 billion debt. The deficit is getting managed, for now, with the help of a onetime uptick in tax revenue, brought partly because people are not taking a deduction on their home mortgages.
Why are fewer people taking the deduction? Because Arizona's housing market remains in shambles. Hard to take a deduction on your house when it's been foreclosed upon.
In other words, Pearce had nothing to do with this onetime windfall.
In fact, Pearce has helped make the debt worse by selling off state buildings, including the Capitol. (This added $1 billion in debt.) And though Pearce blames the state's budget woes on the administration of ex-Governor Janet Napolitano, he conveniently omits that for much of the time Napolitano was governor, he was chair of the House Appropriations Committee, which oversees the budget process.
Finally, in 2014, the state potentially faces another massive shortfall because the temporary one-cent sales tax pushed by Governor Jan Brewer will have expired.
Following the rally, after listening to state Senator Steve Smith blurt hyperbole, calling Pearce a "Superman" and the "Babe Ruth of Arizona politics," I approached Pearce to do what reporters do (ask questions), but Pearce — protected by admirers and his nonstop security detail from the Arizona Department of Public Safety — ignored me.
Sheriff Joe, however, bantered with me for a moment and then leaned in confidentially: "You're a human being," he said to me, then gestured toward Pearce. "You've got to feel sorry for this guy, having to go through this."
I responded that Pearce's problems are of his own making. His hardball style has been ill-suited for this recall campaign, in which Pearce should be going, hat in hand, door to door, asking humbly for the support of his constituents.
Instead, he's been as bellicose as always, falsely portraying the recall effort as one brought against him by "outsiders," "unions," and "open-borders anarchists," and incorrectly painting conservative Republican Jerry Lewis as a tool of such interests (Lewis, in fact, was recruited by GOPers in LD 18 to run).
Privately, members of the Lewis campaign believe the vote will be close, within a couple hundred votes. If Pearce ekes out a win, they believe, it will be because of the shamster Cortes, doing what she was put on the ballot for: siphoning votes from Lewis.
They acknowledge, however, that they've eaten substantially into Pearce's Republican base, with even members of the Mesa City Council coming out against the incumbent.
The other side of the equation is a get-out-the-vote effort spearheaded by Randy Parraz, Citizens for a Better Arizona's co-founder.
Stop by CBA's Mesa headquarters on Center Street these days, and you'll witness a mix of volunteers and paid campaigners making calls to probable voters and coming in from knocking on hundreds of doors a night. Parraz says the result has been that 80 percent of those contacted plan to vote, and vote for Lewis.
"The response has been overwhelmingly positive," he said. "But it's supposed to be positive. This is our list, mostly high-efficacy voters, Democrats."
These are in the bag for Lewis, but how many Republicans actually will vote and cast their ballots for Lewis?
"It's a tough road to victory for him," Parraz said of Pearce. "Even if Pearce spends $10 million on the race, once you have that division among Republicans, he has to go somewhere else to get the votes. Where does he go?"
Find everything you're looking for in your city
Find the best happy hour deals in your city
Get today's exclusive deals at savings of anywhere from 50-90%
Check out the hottest list of places and things to do around your city