In a move that could have significant reverberations for the political establishment in the East Valley, a Mesa Republican is expected to announce Tuesday that he will challenge one of Arizona’s most influential politicians.
Jerry Lewis, an accountant and charter school executive, is planning a round of media interviews to presumably explain why he wants to take on Senate President Russell Pearce, the first sitting legislator to face a recall.
Pearce allies have warned Republicans about the political risks of running against the Senate’s most influential legislator in a recall election that was sought, they claim, not because he did something illegal but because he kept or tried to keep his campaign promises.
Constantin Querard, a political consultant who will run an independent expenditure group to help Pearce keep his seat, said a successful challenger would also be considered a “pariah” by fellow Republicans and would be an ineffective legislator.
That he’s even considering a run means Lewis, a 30-year resident of west Mesa, is undaunted.
His camp maintains he is disconnected with the recall effort.
One of Lewis’ early supporters, Dea Montague, an attorney and former mission president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said he doesn’t believe Pearce represents the majority of voters in his district.
Besides offering a leadership style that strives for consensus, Lewis will “help give Arizona and Mesa and District 18 a better brand,” Montague said last week.
Unspoken but implicit in those words is the argument that Pearce’s supposed extreme positions are giving Arizona a black eye, and that’s not attracting, for one, businesses.
The recall election is set for Nov. 8.
Meanwhile, a legal challenge to the recall petition has been filed in court, and oral arguments are set for Aug. 8.