Feathered Bastard

Joe Arpaio Recall Suspends Paid Signature Gathering Campaign for Second Time

The roller-coaster campaign to recall Sheriff Joe Arpaio took another dive today. With just two weeks left before the recall's May 30 deadline, the on-again, off-again paid effort to gather signatures is off again.

See also: -Joe Arpaio Recall: 14 Days Left, a New Dennis Gilman Video -Joe Arpaio Recall Re-Ignites Paid Petition Effort with 22 Days to Go -Joe Arpaio Recall Claims 200,359 Valid Signatures with 38 Days and Counting

This afternoon, I was forwarded a text message sent out to paid canvassers by Sign Here Petitions, informing them that the recall Arpaio committee Respect Arizona had "shut off" the paid drive. They were ordered to stop collecting signatures and turn in their petitions Friday.

Recall Arizona campaign manager Lilia Alvarez confirmed that this was the case. She explained that Recall Arizona had been in negotiations for more funds to keep the paid drive alive, but the funds did not materialize.

"These donors had questions about who the candidate [against Arpaio] would potentially be in the future," she told me. "Today, they decided that they weren't going to donate at the last push anymore. It is disappointing."

Alvarez says the sticking point was the lack of a definite candidate to bet on.

"We made sure to explain...that wasn't the way it works," she said. "But different people think differently, and they're conditional thinkers."

Indeed, Jerry Lewis, the candidate that devastated ex-state Senate President Russell Pearce in the 2011 recall election did not emerge until after Governor Jan Brewer had set a date for the recall election. That was late in the game. And even then, Lewis was a neophyte who had never run for public office before.

Alvarez would not identify the persons involved with this latest setback. Which is really too bad, because I'd like to know who they are, if only to call them out as cowards.

Nor would Alvarez say how many signatures Respect Arizona currently has. She explained that as paid and volunteer canvassers submit petitions over the next day or two, she would better know where the effort stands.

On April 22, Respect Arizona announced that they had 200,359 valid signatures for the recall petition in-house.

The group has not updated the number since then, though, presumably, that number would have increased. My guess is that they are somewhere near 250,000, though that is wild speculation on my part.

Alvarez told me that the "most realistic assessment" at this point would be that the recall effort would need 9,000 petition circulators to turn in 15 valid signatures a piece to meet their goal of 335,317 valid signatures by May 30.

Or to put it more plainly, she estimated the effort needs 135,000 signatures to meet its deadline "and account for a cushion" that the recall effort would need to cover the inevitable signatures that will be tossed for one reason or another by county elections..

That would require more than 9,600 signatures a day for two weeks, a grim and seemingly impossible task.

"People know that if they do not get involved, they get four more years of the sheriff," Alvarez stated.

Which at this point, seems like what we'll be getting. Unless you believe in the one about the loaves and the fishes.

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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons