Like symptoms of the varicella-zoster virus, former state Senate President Russell Pearce, proud papa of the Grand Canyon State's anti-immigrant-Gestapo legislation, Senate Bill 1070, is back in the political game, seeking a prestigious seat on the Republican National Committee, the governing body of the national GOP.
Arizona has three seats on the RNC. One is always the current chair of the Arizona Republican Party — in this case, Robert Graham. The other two, one man and one woman, serve four-year terms and will be chosen at this year's GOP state convention, to be held April 30 at the Mesa Convention Center.
Though unpaid, the RNC positions wield considerable influence. Indeed, the RNC's 168-member body sets the agenda for the party, writes its rules, helps raise money, puts on the party's national convention, and so on.
Currently, Tucson businessman Bruce Ash is Arizona's Republican national committeeman. He was elected in 2007 and is chairman of the RNC's rules committee.
Sharon Giese has been national committeewoman for Arizona since 2004. She is a registered parliamentarian and previously served as the RNC's parliamentarian, according to her bio on the RNC's website.
Ash has signaled that he's running for re-election. Giese's plans are unknown at this time. (Note: Please see update below.)
Pearce will be vying with Ash for the committeeman spot, which is interesting, given that Pearce was forced to resign his post as First Vice Chair of the state party in 2014 after making comments on his now-defunct radio show to the effect that women receiving government benefits should be sterilized.
"You put me in charge of Medicaid," Pearce stated at the time. "The first thing I'd do is get [female recipients] Norplant, birth-control implants, or tubal ligations. Then, we'll test recipients for drugs and alcohol, and if you want to [reproduce] or use drugs or alcohol, then get a job."
A polarizing figure in Arizona politics, Pearce has a checkered history that includes, among other things, being fired as director of the state's Motor Vehicle Division for improperly altering someone's DUI record, palling around with neo-Nazi (and eventual baby-killer) J.T. Ready, and being the subject of a successful, historic recall election in 2011 while he was state Senate President.
Additionally, Pearce has soiled himself in the past by forwarding an anti-Semitic email from a neo-Nazi organization to his supporters and blaming the 2012 massacre in Aurora, Colorado, which killed 12 and wounded 70, on the victims mowed down in a movie theater, who in his opinion, should have been armed and ready to shoot back at a deranged assailant in the dark.
Despite Pearce's jaundiced view of big government, his whole career has been spent in one form of government or another, with several pensions to show for it. At the present time, he has a patronage gig with the Maricopa County Treasurer's Office that pays $85,000 a year.
Does Pearce have a shot at winning? Ash seems to have a good rep in Republican circles, but with the foulmouthed Donald Trump at the top of the national GOP heap at present, anything seems possible.
Mesa Republican Tyler Montague, president of the conservative Public Integrity Alliance, believes Pearce on the RNC would be a big mistake.
"Ash is a dignified, good representative of the party," Montague told New Times, when asked for comment. "To replace him with Russell Pearce would be a disaster."
Montague observed that Arizona's public image has improved over the years when Pearce dominated Arizona politics. Pearce's representing Arizona on the RNC would be a step backward, in his opinion.
"Russell's done several controversial things," noted Montague, with more than a bit of understatement. "If you vote for him, it's almost as if you endorse that stuff."
According to editor Frosty Taylor's influential daily newsletter, MCRC News Briefs, two women have announced their intention to run for Republican national committeewoman, one being attorney Rae Lynne Chornenky, a former Assistant Attorney General and past president of the National Federation of Republican Women.
The other? Former Republican state Senator Lori Klein, best known for pointing a loaded Ruger at a reporter during his interview with her at the state capitol.
Klein is now married to former Arizona Attorney General Bob Corbin, and to judge from her Facebook page, is an enthusiastic supporter of Donald Trump.
During her time in the Legislature, Klein was an ally of Pearce's on many issues such as illegal immigration. There's a famous video of her outside the state Senate, smacking gum like a fourth-grader and admitting to telling an American citizen protesting her nativist agenda to "Go back to Mexico."
In 2011, she caught flak for reading a racist letter on the floor of the Senate at Pearce's behest, which referred to Latino students as future "gang members and gangsters."
Talk about a class act.
Also at the April 30 state convention, delegates chosen by the various legislative districts will in turn elect 55 delegates to attend the Republican National Convention in Cleveland this July.
As has been recounted in Taylor's Brief, there's been much uproar by some party activists over the state party's charging them $50 a head to attend the convention in Mesa.
The Arizona GOP's leadership has replied that the $50 will cover the cost of lunch and the rental of the Mesa Convention Center, but many poor-mouth Tea Party types remain dissatisfied with the arrangement, pleading poverty.
Poverty? In Republican ranks? If such anti-gub'mint grousers are so eager to get something for free, perhaps they are in the wrong party.
In fact, if Pearce had his way, he'd have them fixed.
Update 11:05 a.m.: After this item was published, Ms. Giese responded to a New Times inquiry, stating via email: "No I am not running again as I have served 12 years."
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