Here's proof positive that Democrats can be just as scummy as Republicans.
I mean this hit piece mailed out to folks in Legislative District 26, declaring that state Senator Jerry Lewis, the man who took on former state Senate President Russell Pearce, the biggest bigot in this state, and defeated him, is a "Tea Party puppet."
Wait a sec, Lewis? The former Mormon stake president recruited to run by Pearce-despisers in Mesa? The dude who took a padlock to the groin when his candidacy was announced in 2011, and who suffered the scorn of many fellow GOPers because he had the temerity to take on a hero to Sand Land haters and wingnuts?
Yep, that Lewis.
How quickly they forget.
Pearce, you'll remember, was President of the "Tea Party Senate," and was fond of saying, "I was Tea Party before the Tea Party was cool."
For daring to challenge Pearce in a recall that many Republicans regarded as illegitimate and foisted on the public by radical leftists, Tea Partiers hated Lewis.
Teabaggers smeared Lewis throughout the campaign, called him a "Judas goat," threatened him and those who supported him, ginned up fake controversies against him, and conspired to run a sham candidate in the race, in order to siphon votes from him.
Almost all of the cretinous thugs fighting against Lewis in the 2011 LD 18 recall race were Tea Party members. The plot to recruit sham candidate Olivia Cortes was hatched after a Tea Party meeting.
Pearce was (and is) their god, Lewis their sworn enemy. I do not exaggerate by much to say that if the Tea Partiers could have gotten away with lynching Lewis from the highest light pole in Mesa, they would have done so.
And yet, here is Lewis, portrayed as a marionette, along with two other Rs, who are running for the state House in redrawn LD 26, where Lewis is campaigning to remain in the state Senate.
As you can see for yourself, the text labels all three candidates as "endorsing Russell Pearce."
I don't know about those other two candidates, but I don't think Lewis will be playing Putt-Putt with Russ anytime soon.
The mailer was paid for by Democratic state House candidates Juan Mendez and Andrew Sherwood, and state Senate candidate Ed Ableser, who currently represents Tempe in the state House.
When Ableser bothers to show up, that is.
See, Ableser missed nearly 40 percent of floor votes this year and 32 percent of them in 2011.
When asked by the Arizona Capitol Times why he missed so many votes, he claimed it was because his participation didn't really matter.
Check out the following excerpt from the May 25 article:
Ableser, who missed nearly 40 percent of the House's floor votes, offered no apology for his record and said his participation reflects what he sees as a waste of time and energy, trying to moderate the highly conservative Legislature.
"They're nuts. The Tea Party has taken over the state and made it a complete mockery. I'm not going to participate in that," Ableser said. "My time is spent better working with my constituents."
In 2011, he had a slightly different answer for the Cap Times:
"When the Republicans were going to ram through their legislation or totally discard what the Democrats voiced, I chose to spend my time working on my dissertation."
As Lewis' foil in LD 26, Ableser has made no bones about smearing Lewis as broadly and as often as he can. In a recent Clean Election-sponsored debate, Ableser depicted himself as fighting a battle against "Tea Party extremism."
Well, 60 percent of the time.
According to sources close to the Dems' LD 26 campaign, the attack mailer was Ableser's idea. And that's not hard to believe.
Butter wouldn't melt in this guy's mouth. He is shamelessness personified. He reminds me of a Democratic version of wingnut Republican legislator Steve Smith.
I called Ableser for comment, and he defended the hit-piece mailer, telling me that since he was running as a team with the other two Dems, the mailer addressed all three of their opponents, and that not all parts of the text related to all three Republicans.
"When we're coming out, talking about our opponents, we have to list [the other] opponents as well," he told me. "I can't just talk about Jerry Lewis and have my three partners pay for it. We have to talk about all three candidates.
"And so, the biggest thing that we feel wins in the district is that Mary Lou Taylor and Ray Speakman, they came out full fledged endorsing Russell Pearce. My partners in the House, they have screenshots. We have proof for all of that stuff."
Never mind that if Speakman and Taylor endorsed Pearce, that means they didn't endorse Lewis.
According to the CapTimes, Speakman has denied endorsing Pearce either in this year's primary or the recall. His name is not on the "Friends of Russell" list that's still online. Taylor's name is, but I haven't talked to her yet. I do know some of the FORs on the current list are old or incorrect.
But, no offense to Taylor or Speakman, I don't care if they endorsed Pearce. I'm mainly concerned with the big lie being told about Lewis.
What about the "funding" Joe Arpaio line? That has to do with a budget bill concerning funds for the Gang and Immigration Intelligence Team Enforcement Mission (GIITEM), which largely benefited the MCSO.
The $100,000? That seems to involve some creative math. As of September 17, Lewis' total raised to date was $41,446.
Lewis is a conservative Republican. But because he ran against Pearce and because he often cast votes against Tea Party-sponsored bills in the Senate (state Representative Debbie Lesko's anti-contraception bill, state Senator Sylvia Allen's militia bill, etc.), he was treated as a pariah by most Rs.
The Dems were more welcoming, at least while the legislature was in session.
It's one thing to disagree with the way Lewis voted on various items. It's another to slime him as if 2011 never happened, as if he never endured and fought with courage against a fearsome political ogre.
If Lewis had turned down his friends, the ones who asked him to run against Pearce, the recall probably would have failed.
Citizens for a Better Arizona scored the signatures to force the recall. But a Dem would not have won in the old, deeply red LD 18. What was needed was a Mormon Republican, one more representative of the district than Pearce.
Lewis was the right man at the right time.
By contrast, what difference would it have made to the world if Ableser had decided to give up politics after his first term for a career as a Starbucks barista?
That, along with this disgusting mailer, is enough not to recommend Ableser over Lewis.
There's also Ableser's smug performance at an October 4 Clean Elections-sponsored debate, where he played used car salesman to Lewis' Eagle Scout.
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Watch it for yourself, and if you live in that district, vote accordingly.
Postscript: I like Andrew Sherwood and he would make a good state Representative, but I am deeply disappointed to see him lending his name and money to this attack.
Sherwood ran unsuccessfully against Pearce for state Senate in 2010. In 2011, he unselfishly opted not to throw his hat into the recall ring. I know he and Lewis have been friends, heretofore, and that he's in a weird position with all this.
Still, I would advise Sherwood, a young man with a bright future, to emulate Lewis, not Ableser. Ableser is just another hack on the make. Lewis is a profile in courage, a man of conscience. More Jerry Lewises are what this state needs. The Ed Ablesers we can do without.