Russell Pearce Is Going Down, But the Recall Still Needs Your Help

Randy Parraz (in black) with volunteers and staff at recall headquarters
Randy Parraz (in black) with volunteers and staff at recall headquarters

As I type this, Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox and a number of local activist groups are having a press conference calling on Sheriff Joe Arpaio to resign and for the feds to take the sheriff's office and the jails into receivership.

Of course, I support that call, but I have no faith the feds will act. And Arpaio will croak in office before he ever resigns.

Such press conferences don't hurt. They do put some pressure on the U.S. Attorney's Office, and so forth. But we've been waiting more than three years now for the feds to act on the various civil and criminal investigations of Arpaio's office. So far, nada. 

Maybe the feds will get off their hindquarters one of these days. But I'm not going to turn blue in the face holding my hot air for it. Makes me feel like one of the characters in Waiting for Godot.

Meanwhile, there is one effort I have faith in, one that I've had faith in since it's inception on January 31st.

That's the recall of state Senate President Russell Pearce.

The local Democratic Party has never seriously engaged Pearce on his own turf. That's not to say individual candidates haven't tried. But the Dems never put the resources necessary into registering voters and getting out the vote in Legislative District 18.

Instead, the D's conceded the district to Pearce, and like a malignant weed, Pearce has flourished, unassailed by the gardener's hand.

Now, Citizens for a Better Arizona is ready to rip that weed out by the roots and cast it into the fire.

Though the Dems have remained silent on CBA's cause since it filed its paperwork with the Arizona Secretary of State's Office, the group led by veteran organizer (and former U.S. Senate candidate  Randy Parraz) and Republican attorney Chad Snow, has been barreling through Mesa like a heard of tornadoes, upending all preconceived notions of the staid, conservative stronghold.

More importantly, CBA's been registering voters and garnering the 7,756 valid signatures needed to force a recall election of the state's most powerful politician.

With the deadline looming at the end of May, the recall is already tantalizingly close to its goal. Though the Arizona Republic has reported that CBA is 500 signatures away from the total needed. Parraz told me this morning that it's closer to 1,000. 

Either way, Pearce's day of reckoning is nigh.

The rival recall group Arizonans for Better Government, led by Somos Republicans' DeeDee Blase, has removed itself completely from the fray, encouraging everyone to assist CBA.

Having raised $25K in donations, CBA has been able to pay some petition gatherers, though the bulk of the work is being done by volunteers.

This Saturday, CBA formally opened a campaign headquarters at 628 N. Center Street in Mesa with a pizza party for volunteers and staff. I stopped by to check out the digs. One young lady by the name of Lilia told me she'd gotten 15 signatures that morning. She was heading out for an afternoon canvass to hunt for more.

Parraz said that CBA wants to submit the signatures in advance of the deadline, and that the office will remain open through July to push for an election in November, as well as inform people about Pearce, register more voters and encourage those voters to get to the polls.

Regarding possible candidates to go head to head with Pearce, should he opt not to resign, Parraz said he couldn't comment on individuals.

"We're a recall committee, we can't even get into that," he explained. "Let's be honest, who's going to step up now? It doesn't make sense. You can't even have a candidate until those signatures get ratified.

"Are people talking about potentials, I'm sure they are. But it means nothing unless we're successful at this recall. So let's focus on the recall."

(BTW, neither the Dems nor the Libertarians should field a candidate. Instead, a moderate Republican is needed, hopefully one that is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, to appeal to Mesa's large LDS community. Otherwise, the vote will split, leaving Pearce the victor.)

Parraz promised that CBA was taking nothing for granted, and he encouraged those who want to become a part of history to join the effort. CBA is organizing a massive walk for signatures for this Saturday, May 14, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Volunteers should check in during this time at the main branch of the Mesa Public Library, 64 E. 1st Street in Mesa.

The only successful recall effort in the state's history has been that of Governor Ev Mecham, but he was impeached before the election could happen. I have no doubt CBA will get the required signatures, and the group has been vetting the signatures, weeding out those that are invalid.

Yet even Parraz knows he needs a cushion, perhaps as many as a couple thousand more. Which is why people cannot sit back, thinking the deed is done. Only registered LD18 voters can sign the petition, but if you live outside the district, you can still volunteer. 

CBA does have to deal with the law of diminishing returns. It gets harder to score signatures as time goes on. The low-hanging fruit has been plucked.

"People are hearing that we're going to get the signatures, but we're not there yet," said Parraz. "We'd be dead if we turned them in tomorrow. So the main message is that this recall is going on, we're not done, and we need help."

You heard the man. Now get-r-done.

Note: To lend your support, check out the Recall Pearce website, here.


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