Feathered Bastard

Russell Pearce Challenger Jerry Lewis Takes on the Critics, Swears Off All Freebies

As I discuss at length in my column this week, state Senate President Russell Pearce wrestles almost daily with the truth, and so, too, do many of his supporters. 

So, not surprisingly, Pearce's main challenger in the Legislative District 18 recall election, Mesa educator and Republican Jerry Lewis, has become the target of a smear campaign by Pearce and his supporters. And how do GOPers smear GOPers? By calling them secret lefties, natch.

But as pro-Lewis Republican Tyler Montague explains in the introduction to this e-mail from Lewis to LD 18 voters, he and his father, Republican attorney Dea Montague, recruited Lewis to run. And as Lewis points out, he was initially not eager to do so.

The Montagues are conservative Republicans with deep roots in Mesa. And it just so happens that, like Lewis, they are not far right lunatics. This makes them suspect in the eyes of the tinfoil hat-wearers. On the other hand, it should be reassuring to normal folks who happen to vote Republican.

Interestingly, in his e-mail, Lewis promises not to accept a government pension, to uphold conservative values, and to "NOT take gifts, event tickets, meals or trips from anyone."

You know, unlike football-ticket-taker and Fiesta Bowl-junketeer Russell Pearce.

I like the part about eschewing the gravy train. All politicians, on both the left and the right, Dems and Rs, should take "the Lewis pledge": No freebies while in office.

That'll be a tough one for members of both parties to adhere to, as both Ds and Rs are guilty of taking free trips, free tickets and free meals from lobbyists and other groups.

Sorry, this stuff is not for "educational" purposes, as some legislators have claimed. They're soft bribes, at best. And the people want them gone from public life. Kudos to Lewis for abstaining. Let's see if any other politicians are shamed into doing likewise.

Dear friends, forgive me if you already got this (and forgive me if you don't care)...but here is a letter from Jerry Lewis, so you can keep up with his candidacy. Likewise, send this to your friends.

There have been a lot of silly emails going around with crazy accusations about Barack Obama, Saul Alinsky, and Randy Parraz all conspiring to control Jerry, and I think he wanted to both set things straight, and tell you what else is on his mind.  It's sort of funny to me to watch the conspiracy tales be spun, since my dad and I recruited Jerry to run, and before making his final decision he spoke with many of the people I respect most in Mesa, who also encouraged him to run.  I wholeheartedly endorse Jerry Lewis as a man of principle, character, intellect, and energy.  He will bring a fresh new voice.  We can thank Russell Pearce for all he's done, and then enjoy what Jerry will add.  You will be proud of him.  I'm looking forward to his service.

Thank you,

Tyler Montague

From: Jerald Lewis

Sent: Thursday, September 22, 2011

To: Jerry Lewis

Subject: Stand up to bullies!


Mesa Residents and Friends,


I want to tell you clearly why I joined the race for LD 18 Senate and why I hope you will let others know about who I am.


For the last several years many of my neighbors and I have been concerned about the actions of some of our state political leaders. While we know that we have representatives from Mesa who are working hard to build a better Mesa, we haven't felt that the tone and priorities of our senator have accurately reflected who we are. When it became clear that a recall election was going to be held in November, many residents who have wanted a fresh and more representative voice approached me about running. I initially said "NO WAY!" I have never had ANY ambition to run for political office. Those of you who know me know that this is true. I have spent the last 29 years in Mesa raising my family, filing your taxes, teaching you or your children, starting and running businesses, serving the schools, youth sports leagues, various addiction recovery organizations and the Boy Scouts, and more recently training to run marathons. Aspiring to political office has never been and is not currently on my bucket list! 


So, why would I subject myself to a public process of a campaign? A process where people who have never met me, and some who have, are willing to say whatever it takes to discredit me? Well, after I said "no" to those who initially asked me to run, I was approached again four months later. The idea that Mesa needed a new style of leadership and a different set of priorities weighed heavily on my mind and heart. I spoke to my wife about it. Again, we made it a matter of serious thought and prayer. We considered all of our concerns and discussed how we might effectively manage each one. We also considered the many people who have spoken to us about their concerns for our city and state and the need for a civil and fresh voice who could represent Mesa with a focus on all of the important issues in a manner that they could be proud of. As we contemplated these and many other issues the thought came to me over and over again, "If not me, then who?"


Two months ago, I decided to enter the arena of public service because I feel that we can do better in Mesa. We can work with our wonderful city leaders to bring sustained economic growth to Mesa. We can work with our school administrators to improve the quality of our education and we can work with all people to solve problems without constantly bickering, name calling, and law suits.


What have I learned since running for office? I have been surprised by some of the things said about this election and about me that are inaccurate. As you know, I am NOT part of some carefully orchestrated left-wing plot! I have been recruited and supported by many conservative Republicans whom you probably know. The election in LD 18 was called by the voters of the district. Nearly 11,000 verified voters were unsatisfied enough that THEY signed a petition to have this election.


I am running for Senate to represent YOU. I don't play political games. I will tell you what I really think! I also want to hear from you! I don't plan to make a career of politics. In fact, I WON'T take a pension for my service. I can also promise to you that I won't play favorites and I won't seek special privileges that you and your family don't have access to. I will NOT take gifts, event tickets, meals or trips from anyone. I will pay for myself! And if I incur expenses in the performance of my duties as an elected official I will be frugal in how and what those sacred tax dollars are used for and report them in a timely manner. Most of all, I will work each day to do what I think is right regardless of the consequences and if I make a mistake I will readily acknowledge it.


My priorities will be to help our Mesa neighborhoods be safe and welcoming and to help your family have opportunities for work. I will share what I have learned from my experience as an educator to help improve the quality of our education. I will listen to the ideas that best serve Mesa and this state and I won't care who gets the credit! 


If you support me and my candidacy please do not be silenced or bullied by more strident voices, rumors, or by people who simply disagree. An election has been called by the Governor and the Secretary of State. The will of the people will be known on November 8th. We will all accept, support, and pray for whoever it is that the voters decide to elect. I just ask that if you support me, that you make a choice to not be silenced because people with louder or stronger opinions are making noise. I ask you to think about what constantly has run through my mind, "If not me, then who?" 


All that is necessary for us to remain in a polarized community is for good people to say nothing. We can speak up, but we can do it respectfully and kindly. None of us has all the answers, but we ALL should be part of the conversation. 


If you feel as I do, please forward this to your friends and family. Also, consider putting a yard sign up and donating your time or dollars to our campaign.



Thanks again for being a friend of me and my family whether you vote for me or not. Thanks also for being great neighbors.




Jerry Lewis, Mesa Resident

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