How anti-illegal immigration leader Russell Pearce lost in Arizona

Rhona N. writes:

This article in the Los Angeles Times explains more fully what happened to Russell Pearce. Of course, the media is not explaining that the recall election, dubbed as a Republican primary, allowed everyone to vote. He would never have lost a real Republican primary or the general election.

LA replies:

If he lost a recall election in which everyone could vote, why wouldn’t he lose a general election in which everyone could vote?

- end of initial entry -

Paul M. writes:

LA asks, “If he lost a recall election in which everyone could vote, why wouldn’t he lose a general election in which everyone could vote?”

In a general election, Pearce would be running against a Democrat. Therefore, he’d get most of the Republican vote, and I understand his district is majority Republican.

In the recall election, however, Pearce was running against another Republican, so he split the GOP vote with Lewis, who also probably got all the Democrats and a good portion of the independents.

In 2012, Lewis will have to win the GOP primary. THAT will be a test of whether Arizonians are having second thoughts about SB1070.

Tim W. writes:

V-Dare has an excellent article by James Kirkpatrick on the Pearce recall election. He makes some excellent points about the decades-old tendency of the Republicans to play nice rather than to play hardball.

Give the GOP a winning issue that isn’t PC with the media or the country clubbers, and the party will lose rather than use that issue. Jesse Helms came from behind to win re-election in 1990 with his “infamous” TV ad opposing affirmative action. Within no time all right-thinking (which is to say right-liberal thinking) Republicans) denounced the ad. Pete Wilson won big in California opposing open borders, and the national GOP thumbed its nose at him. More recently Joe Turner won a traditionally Democratic House seat in New York by opposing same-sex “marriage,” and the next day the national GOP was assuring us that that couldn’t possibly be why he won.

This is why the Republicans almost always either lose or, if they win, do so with candidates who have no desire to stop the leftward drift of our country and culture. If an occasional principled candidate stands up forcefully for conservatism and wins, the party establishment marginalizes him and dismisses his efforts.

In Arizona the Chamber of Commerce Republicans hated Pearce for curtailing the supply of cheap labor. They didn’t think they could beat him in a primary (where most voters are very conservative) or in a general election (where the “moderate” GOP voters will stick with the party candidate against a very liberal Democrat). So they used the recall law, which allowed for open elections with candidates of either party on one ballot. They put forward a Republican who was a Mormon (like Pearce). But his ties to business interests led him to oppose Pearce’s crusade to protect the state’s borders. Democrats co-operated by not putting up a candidate, so their voters were encouraged to support Pearce’s opponent. The combination of liberal votes and “business profits before everything else” Republicans defeated Pearce.

Kirkpatrick notes that amnesty and keeping the borders open is now a priority issue for the Democrats, because they know that if they win on that they’ll win on everything else eventually. California proves that there is no “family values” Latino vote. There’s a huge socialist Latino vote, though. So liberal voters had no problem supporting Pearce’s GOP opponent, named Jerry Lewis, even though he presumably holds conservative positions on abortion and business taxes. That’s only a temporary compromise if the flood of non-whites across the border remains protected.

The mainstream GOP hasn’t the slightest idea what type of opponents they’re dealing with.

Jack S. writes:

The reasons for Pearce’s loss are a lot more complex than media reports have led people to believe, especially national media reports.

As Arizona Senate President, Pearce spearheaded the push to pass SB 1070, with Governor Brewer reluctantly agreeing to sign the bill in the Spring of 2010. She agreed to sign this and a gun rights law in exchange for the State legislature allowing a referendum vote on a one cent sales tax increase, an tax increase that they had repeatedly refused to enact into law despite the Governor calling several specials sessions to force the issue. Pearce had also taken the lead in the effort to pass the so called “Constitutional Carry” law which had be vetoed by Napolitano on several occasions. This allowed concealed carry of handguns in Arizona without any special permit; open carry of weapons having always been permitted.

Brewer had pushed for the sales tax increase as the only way to balance the State budget and her signing these bills was a quid pro quo for the Arizona legislature’s allowing the sales tax increase to be put to a referendum vote after repeatedly refusing to pass it the increase into law. After SB 1070 passed her popularity unexpectedly increased and she became a shoe-in for election to Governor in her own right. Brewer had succeeded former Governor Napolitano in January 2009 from her post as Secretary of State according to Arizona succession laws. She had been seen as a clownish borderline incompetent prior to her new-found popularity. All serious contenders for the Republican nomination for governor withdrew after her increased popularity made it apparent that she would win easily. She defeated the former Arizona Attorney General Goddard in the Gubernatorial race in November 2010 to win her own 4 year term as Governor

The recall effort was the result of national pro-illegal groups targeting Pearce. The recall group’s official recall statement says, “We find Russell Pearce’s overt disdain for the United State’s Constitution to be indicative of his inability to govern as prescribed by his job description and the oath he took to regain his seat in the state Senate.” The recall laws required 7,756 valid signatures to be collected within Pearce’s Senate District number 18 endorsing the recall proposal. This number was 25% of the votes cast (31,091) in the previous election.

After the recall effort started some scandals came to light that hurt Pearce. There were reports in the local news media that Pearce had accepted the equivalent of $40,000 in gifts, tickets and trips from the Fiesta Bowl organization. Pearce was one of many Arizona politicians that had accepted significant amounts from the Fiesta Bowl college football bowl, which is held annually in Phoenix. Other reports came out that implied that Pearce had struck his wife in a domestic dispute decades ago.

After the recall signature drive succeeded there was a lot of maneuvering with regard to the date of the recall election. With the help of Governor Brewer the recall election was pushed back to coincide with the general election and thereby assure a larger turnout which was thought to be beneficial to Pearce.

Candidates earned a place on the recall ballot by gathering a certain number of valid signatures from within the district. A effort by Pearce supporters to place Olivia Cortes on the recall ballot boomeranged on him. Cortes’ Hispanic surname was expected to dilute the anti-Pearce vote and was portrayed as a cynical ploy to game the election. A court battle ensued in which her candidacy was declared illegitimate but it was too late to remove her name from the ballot. In the end she only got 500 votes.

Pearce’s main opponent was an unknown Republican named Jerry Lewis. Lewis and Pearce are both Mormon and the 80,000 person district is heavily Mormon but with a large plurality of Hispanics. The Mormon church in 2010 had endorsed the so-called “Utah Compact” which promised that Mormons and Utah elected officials would not support anti-illegal immigration legislation. This caused some Mormons in the district to feel that Pearce’s aggressiveness with regard to the illegal issue was against Church teachings.

In the end Pearce lost by about 1800 votes with the result still not finalized. This was due a combination of the Fiesta Bowl and wife beating scandals, the Cortes maneuver, the anti-Pearce vote by liberals and Hispanics in the district and the reluctance of some Mormons to go against their Church’s new see no evil, hear no evil, say no evil policy on illegals which Lewis tacitly endorsed. This was the first time a recall effort succeeded in removing a State Senator. The attempt to control illegal immigration embodied by SB 1070 is still seen as necessary and popular in Arizona.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at November 10, 2011 11:13 AM | Send

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