Tell me that the upcoming recall election of Russell Pearce isn’t going to be as uneventful as I expect it will be. So far, all the signs are pointing to a disappointing blowout, with Pearce clobbering political newbie Jerry Lewis.
Confronted with the historic occasion of the first recall election of a legislator, and a hardliner at that, the state’s business community and others capable of writing lifeblood-giving checks to Lewis are doing what any pessimist would expect them to do.
They are sitting on their hands, doing nothing.
These are the same people who cringed at the prospect of Pearce becoming president of the Senate. And they are the same people who begged him this year, to no avail, to hold off on another round of illegal immigration proposals, for fear of triggering even more bad-for-business accusations that Arizona is hostile and backward.
Pearce has never had difficulties expressing his feelings about the state’s business community, which he has historically ridiculed as a profits-over-patriotism lobby that interferes with the American goal of ridding the state of illegal immigrants.
Rather than taking offense — and doing something about it — business interests like the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry are taking some comfort in Pearce’s recent help in passing the so-called jobs bill in special session. This is despite the fact that the effort was spearheaded by former House Speaker Kirk Adams and Gov. Jan Brewer.
Support for the bill, and other similarly minded economic efforts during a deep recession, would also seem like a given for conservative lawmakers like Pearce. Claiming it as proof of rapprochement, if anything, is strange at best. At worst, it sounds like an emotionally battered spouse sympathizing with and defending an abuser.
Lewis’ odds certainly weren’t made any better by the surprising and immediate endorsement of Pearce by Brewer, who even implored the public to cough up money to help promote the incumbent who has already achieved national notoriety. The same can be said for the Arizona Republican Party, which conveniently forgot the party custom of remaining neutral when party members square off.
It appears that Lewis could gain support from the district’s substantial population of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which recently issued a more moderate take on illegal immigration policy than anything Pearce would ever endorse. But the church’s impact is uncertain; Pearce himself is LDS, and the church will not make direct endorsements of candidates.
As it stands, Lewis appears all alone and facing insurmountable odds as he is getting set to challenge arguably the most powerful official in the state. His potential allies tucked tail and abandoned him at the first chance, and Pearce’s war machine is giddily preparing a political blitzkrieg.
Lewis is either incredibly naïve or he knows something observers and armchair pundits don’t. Whatever the case, it is still crystal clear that this guy has guts.
On second thought, maybe this race won’t be so boring after all.
— Christian Palmer is associate editor of te Yellow Sheet Report.