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Multiple Pearce challengers emerge

Even as a Mesa Republican with strong ties to the Mormon Church is preparing to mount a challenge to Senate President Russell Pearce, two other residents have also jumped into the recall election.

Olivia Cortes, a Republican who used to work in the semiconductor industry, on Tuesday opened a campaign committee.

Tommy Cattey, an audiologist and pastor, also submitted his paperwork a few days ago. Cattey is an independent.

Both residents will have to collect 621 signatures in order to qualify for the ballot.

“The district’s Hispanic voters deserve a choice,” Cortes said when asked why she’s running. “The district is changing, so why shouldn’t the make up of the candidates?”

Cortes immigrated to the United States in the early 1970s.

Meanwhile, Cattey said he’s running because the state needs a change of leadership.

“I don’t have all the answers,” he acknowledged. “(But) there needs to be changes in the state and Russell Pearce is not it.”

For one, the state’s approach to illegal immigration isn’t working, he said. The economy also isn’t working, he added.

Whatever the solution is to the illegal immigration problem, it has to be “humane,” he said.

It would be tough for an independent like Cattey to win in a solidly Republican district, but he insists he didn’t join the race to dilute the vote against Pearce.

He agrees, he said, that it would be better to have one candidate who is most qualified to take on incumbent legislator. He believes he is that candidate.

But Cortes and Cattey will likely have to contend with Republican Jerry Lewis, a charter school executive, who is expected to announce his candidacy on Wednesday.

Longtime Capitol observers see him as the early favorite given his deep roots in the west Mesa district and his close ties to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

But Pearce, a veteran legislator, has easily defended his seat in the past.

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