Feathered Bastard

Russell Pearce Recall Now at 10,000-Plus Valid Signatures, GOP LD15ers Come To Pearce's Rescue

The effort to recall state Senate President Russell Pearce has passed another milestone: This morning, Maricopa County Elections Director Karen Osborne confirmed that the county has validated 10,089 signatures of the 16,949 forwarded to her office by the Arizona Secretary of State.

Of the 16,836 signatures examined so far, 6,747 have been deemed invalid, according to the county. There are just 113 signatures left to go.

The recall committee Citizens for a Better Arizona last week exceeded the required number of 7,756 valid signatures from registered voters of Legislative District 18. A recall election is thus guaranteed for either November or March, unless Pearce resigns, and I think we all know that's not going to happen.

The county has to be done with its work by August 1, then the sigs go back to the Secretary of State. There will be a short period during which the signatures can be challenged. After that, it goes to the governor, and she sets the date for the election.

Interestingly, despite all of Pearce's talk that voters in his district "know" him, he will be receiving substantial assistance from outside his district -- from Republicans in LD15, for instance.

Take a look at this streaming video from a recent GOP LD15 meeting where one of the hottest topics of conversation is the Pearce recall, and how LD15 GOPers can help Pearce.

Obviously, LD15 is not Pearce's district. As you can see from this map, it's actually separated from LD18 by LD17, which is made up of Tempe and parts of Scottsdale. LD15 includes different parts of Phoenix.

Amusingly, LD15 is a Democratic stronghold, and happens to be Democratic state Senator Kyrsten Sinema's district. These GOPers should really consider relocating to LD18, since they love Pearce so much. (Redistricting will not affect the recall election, no matter when it's held, BTW.)

Not that there's anything wrong with them helping Pearce out, but it does belie Pearce's contention that he has a lot of support in LD18. Most of Pearce's support, and almost all of his campaign contributions, hail from outside his district.

One speaker states that he's been helping to review petition sheets for the Pearce camp, and alleges shenanigans.

"We are finding some very evident fraud," he tells the assembled. "If you can prove [fraud] on a page, the whole page gets thrown out."

I asked Osborne about this issue of so-called "fraud." She replied via e-mail.

"There are some old court cases that speak to fraud," writes Osborne. "A page getting thrown out for fraud would have to happen by direction of the Superior Court. If we find an invalid signature we count it as invalid. We do not throw out an entire page unless they are all invalid."

SOS spokesman Matthew Roberts responded to the same question in a similar fashion.

"For the most part," he stated via e-mail, "the only reason an entire sheet would be `thrown out' would be if the affidavit of verification performed by a notary public on the back of the petition was improperly filled out.

"Signatures being eliminated for various reasons are fairly common. Failure to sign, bad address, not in district, not registered to vote, etc. are usually the culprits, but those are typically eliminated on a line by line basis. 

"So for example, if I forgot to put a date, or sign it, my signature would go, not the entire sheet. But if I was the notary and [messed up] the back, the whole sheet would go."

All this talk of invalidating petition pages willy-nilly is mostly pro-Pearce propaganda. Not that his side won't do everything possible to challenge the process, natch.

Veteran GOP consultant Constantin Querard also speaks to the LD15 group, and his presentation is pretty matter-of-fact. Querard is working on an effort to challenge the signatures. He admits that the pro-recall forces submitted "a lot of signatures," and he tells the group that what could be coming in November is an LD18 version of the Battle of the Bulge (my words, not his).

"It really is going to be old-fashioned campaigning," he explains. "House by house, block by block."

He adds, "It's not enough to just send some mailers out. We're going to be knocking on a lot of doors."

And he mentions that pro-Pearce folks will have to go to the houses of those who signed the recall petition and try to flip 'em.

Which is fine, as long as there's no harassment or intimidation involved. Not that Pearce supporters would ever try to bully his opponents.

Querard goes on to discuss the possible demise of Clean Elections, which I've never liked for the precise reasons he offers: The Republicans are better at using it than Democrats, even though Republicans are opposed to it for ideological reasons.

"This is a pretty lousy system," he says at one point, "and it works really well for us."

He is 100 percent correct. I know all my lefty pals love the idea of Clean Elections, the matching funds and all that. But Republicans -- and particularly wingnut Republicans -- know how to exploit it to their advantage, get elected and stay elected. Dems, however, do not. 

So when and if Clean Elections goes kaput, I'll weep no tears for it. And those Ds who do are deluding themselves.