Followers of disgraced, recalled ex-state Senate President Russell Pearce practically begged for amnesty Wednesday night in Mesa from their blood-rivals, the moderate GOPers they derisively refer to as RiNOs (Republicans in Name Only).
And more than two hours into a tense, divided meeting of Republican Legislative District 25 precinct committee persons, the RiNOs granted the request of their adversaries, affording them a reprieve that allowed Pearce and his slimy bro Lester to remain state committee persons, along with some 150 LD 25 tuskers.
See also: -Russell Pearce Endorses Robert Graham for GOP Chair; LD 25 Do-Over Tonight -Russell Pearce's "Wee Man" Rob Haney Crushed Like a Bug -Russell Pearce's Mad Elf Rob Haney: Sued on Christmas Eve -Joe Arpaio's Birther Bud Tom Morrissey Punks Out of GOP Chair Race; Russell Pearce Could Still Play Spoiler to Bob Graham -Russell Pearce's Leprechaun Rob Haney Flips Out, Invalidates LD 25 Election, Calls the Coppers
The PCs did this by ratifying LD 25's original November 29th vote, one that had been hijacked by Pearce's personal leprechaun, outgoing Maricopa County Committee Chair Rob Haney. This, because Haney claimed there had been "fraud" in that election.
Some of the PCs I spoke with at the Wednesday meeting believed that the handful of allegedly fraudulent nomination forms discovered by Herr Haney were part of a Reichstag Fire-like plot to allow an "investigation" that would invalidate an election the LD 25 wingnuts knew they would lose to the moderates.
There's no way to prove such speculation, which admittedly does sound a bit tin-foil-hatty. But keep in mind, as I've already discussed in this blog, the only thing that prevented Haney from doing his own planned re-vote on January 9, was a federal lawsuit, brought by the duly elected officers of LD 25, filed on Christmas Eve.
Haney supposedly had turned over "evidence" of fraud to a local law enforcement agency, believed to be the MCSO. And Handy was quoted in the Arizona Capitol Times' "Yellow Sheet," threatening to have sheriff's deputies on hand for the January 9 re-do.
However, faced with the prospect of having to defend his indefensible shenanigans in federal court, Haney caved like the deranged wannabe Napoleon that he is, and agreed to let the new officers of LD 25 handle the re-vote, and to accept the results, whatever they might be.
So it's not surprising the wee-man was nowhere to be seen Wednesday night at the Mesa Utility Building, where LD 25's GOP PCs gathered to settle the mess he had caused. There were about 150 persons present, with a little more than that represented by proxies.
Led mostly by LD 25 Chair Paul Whetten and attorney Alan Soelberg, a series of options were presented to the assembled regarding how the meeting should proceed.
Without recreating the mind-numbing minutiae of the bylaws and their differing interpretations, the initial vote had to do with whether or not to accept the bylaws as they currently stand; i.e., requiring a signed nomination form for each candidate for state committee.
According to LD 25's new recording secretary, lawyer Brent Ellsworth, the November 29 vote had been flawed, in that many whose names were on the ballot did not submit the proper paperwork to be considered as candidates.
"In fact," Ellsworth e-mailed me recently, "over 400 candidates appeared on that ballot but only about 180 had submitted the proper documentation."
Two of those apparently not submitting their docs on time were the brothers Pearce, Lester and Russell.
Which means they were, per LD 25's bylaws, undocumented.
Seems some folks just don't believe in the rule of by-law, thinking they can skip ahead of others who play by the rules. (Irony alert.)
The Pearces were on hand Wednesday, though they mostly sat in the rear and kept their yaps shut, other than kibbitzing with their fellow Rs before and after the votes.
The resolution of the issue was of importance to Russ, because it's been rumored that he might attempt a challenge of anticipated victor Robert Graham in the race for state party chair during the state GOP's January 26 meeting.
Pearce himself put a hole in that persistent rumor by publicly endorsing Graham earlier in the day.
Not that Pearce would be above a colossal backstab, but such an obvious betrayal of his word would be difficult to rationalize, even for a practiced prevaricator such as Pearce.
A brief debate ensued among the LD 25 PCs. Some argued that the rules weren't there to exclude Republicans from running, but to encourage them to run. Which sounded like the sort of thing a Democrat would say.
One frog-voiced gentleman observed that as a conservative, he supported the rule of law.
"I think it would be wrong to say that we do not abide by the bylaws," he stated.
A slim majority agreed, and the motion passed. It seemed, with that vote, the pro-Pearce camp would endure further punishment, and some in their ranks would not be allowed to run for election to the state committee.
But a motion was made, and seconded, that the results of the November 29 state committee election be accepted, without removing the names of those who did not have their papers in order.
Many objected, pointing out that this reversed the vote that had just taken place. PC Tyler Montague, a member of the non-Pearce-worshipping camp, cried "point of order," arguing that the motion was illegal under the vote that had just transpired.
But the vote moved ahead nonetheless, with the most persuasive argument for the motion being, "Let's vote `yes,' then we can go home."
One of those promoting this point of view was Libertarian-leaning-Republican PC Andrea Garcia, who ran against Pearce as a Libertarian candidate for the state Senate in 2010. At one point, she waved a makeshift sign that read, "DROP THE ROPE."
The anti-Pearce forces had the votes to hold out, but by that time it was well after 9 p.m., and the "let's go home" argument was particularly persuasive.
Also, there was a feeling that it was better to make peace than continue the war. Some in the anti-Pearce faction even crossed sides, including state Senator-elect Bob Worsley, bringing the meetings main business to a conclusion.
"I think everyone must have just seen Les Mis," attorney Ellsworth wrote me afterward, "as those who normally have called for strict enforcement of other laws voted to grant amnesty and mercy to those who had not complied with the bylaws."
Pearce's declaration for Graham earlier in the day seemed to downplay the necessity of keeping him off the state committee. And even if the second vote had gone the other way, he might have gotten on the ballot as a write-in candidate, or through some other backdoor maneuver.
Moreover, an estimated two-thirds of the state committee persons elected on November 29 were from the non-Pearce camp. The RiNOs had already won, and could afford to be magnanimous in victory.
Essentially, the importance of the LD 25 vote comes down to two significant points.
The first was made by Ellsworth in his communication with me:
This was also a total rejection of the unwarranted intervention of Chairman Rob Haney in our district affairs. When his allegations of fraud could not be proven during his investigation, he sought to throw out both the officer elections and the state committeemen election because of "irregularities."
Haney backed down within hours of being served with the lawsuit filed in federal court by most of the members of the newly elected board he was seeking to disqualify. Haney agreed to recognize the new board as the validly elected board and he agreed to accept the results of our meeting last night regarding the district's selection of state committeemen, whatever that may be. The district voted to ratify the November 29 state committeemen election -- the exact same election Haney sought to throw out.
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I agree, though there is another, even more profound significance: The moderates are firmly in control of LD 25, even more so than they were in the old LD 18, at least as far back as 2010, when Pearce lost a similar bid to be on the GOP state committee until Haney successfully forced a revote.
Indeed, following Russell Pearce's 2011 recall loss, his defeat this year in the GOP primary, his brother Lester's utter annihilation in the district 2 GOP primary for county supervisor, and Lester's censure by Arizona's Commission on Judicial Conduct, the moderate Rs have cemented their grip on power in the East Valley.
The Pearces and their followers are on the outs in LD 25, one of the most active and conservative GOP districts in Sand Land. Haney is exiting stage right as county party chair. And the moderate Rs no longer fear retribution from the wingnuts.
All positive developments, a step toward the center in our redder than red state.