Feathered Bastard

Russell Pearce's Opponent Jerry Lewis a "No Vote" on SB 1070

Check out these two segments of a recent interview done by Channel 12's Brahm Resnik of state Senate hopeful and conservative Republican Jerry Lewis, who is looking to topple state Senate President Russell Pearce in the Legislative District 18 recall election.

In them, Lewis takes on the issue of immigration directly, decrying enforcement-only solutions to illegal immigration while maintaining a commitment to securing America's border with Mexico. Significantly, Lewis states that he would have been a "no vote" against Pearce's infamous Senate Bill 1070.

"I stand for secure borders, the rule of law," he told Resnik. "But I also believe we rushed through legislation that was not complete. It ignored the other key issues that have to be involved in this discussion."

The other key issues include dealing humanely and sanely with the undocumented in our midst, and helping them get right with the law. Resnik pointed out that many conservatives regard this as "amnesty," but Lewis disagreed.

"I think you need to look at what the definition of amnesty is," said Lewis. "Amnesty is a complete pardon for past crimes against a country. Trying to help someone get square with the law...does not fit within the realm of that definition. 

"Trying to work with people that are here, that are honestly trying to earn a living to support their families and that our economy actually demands -- not necessarily a pathway to citizenship, but a pathway to be here with legal documents so that they can work, so that they can feel safe, I think is a good idea."

Lewis, who along with Pearce is a Mormon, reinforced his support for the June statement on immigration issued by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which says, in part that,

"The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is concerned that any state legislation that only contains enforcement provisions is likely to fall short of the high moral standard of treating each other as children of God."

Lewis' stance is a brave one considering that Mexican-bashing is practically a requirement for Arizona Republicans these days, a requirement imposed by the state GOP's current leadership. 

This is why November 8 could be a watershed moment in Sand Land politics, one that beats back a tide of hatred and xenophobia, and opens the door to rational discussion of a tough topic. 

There are powerful forces who want status quo to remain in place, and those powerful forces are aligned behind Russell Pearce. 

But if you drive around Mesa these days, you'll see a proliferation of Jerry Lewis yard signs in front of homes where conservative Republican Mormons reside. That's a clear indication that the battle is joined in LD 18, and that the status quo could be upended come November 8.

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