Mesa businessman Bob Worsley has fired the first shot in the primary race against former Senate President Russell Pearce, calling him out for spearheading a boycott campaign against the advertisers of an alternative newspaper.
In an email blast today, Worsley lumped Pearce with Democratic Congressman Raul Grijalva, who earlier called for a boycott against Arizona in the wake of the passage of SB1070, the state’s anti-illegal immigration law that has been copied elsewhere in the country.
“Liberal Democratic Congressman Raul Grijalva called for a boycott of Arizona businesses after Senate Bill 1070 passed. It was wrong of Grijalva to penalize Arizona’s businesses then and it’s wrong for Russell Pearce to target them now,” Worsley said.
Ban Amnesty Now, which advocates for strict enforcement in confronting illegal immigration, last month called for a boycott of the advertisers of the Phoenix New Times, which is critical of Pearce and Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
The group’s website lists more than 200 businesses it is targeting. The list includes Circle K, Cox Communications, Harkins Theaters and Valley Chevy Dealers.
The group is asking “patriotic citizens” who oppose amnesty for illegal immigrants to boycott those businesses until they pull their advertising from the New Times.
In launching the boycott, Ban Amnesty Now founder Sean McCaffrey argued that the New Times is solely dependent on advertising revenues and without dollars from those companies, it wouldn’t be able to print its “vicious, heinous attacks against law enforcement, elected officials and conservative leaders who dare to oppose illegal immigration.”
On the group’s website, Pearce, the president of the group, echoed the sentiment: “I am confident responsible conservatives will take this buy-cott to heart, and stop spending their hard-earned dollars with businesses and restaurants that support the illegal alien agenda. There are plenty of car dealers, retailers and great Arizona restaurants that don’t advertise in the New Times that will be happy to have our business.”
Sean Noble, Worsley campaign consultant, said the boycott campaign only shows Pearce can’t get past divisive rhetoric.
“These businesses employ thousands of Arizonans. It’s incomprehensible that anyone would call for a boycott that aims to damage Arizona business when our economy is still hurting,” Noble said.
New Times writer Stephen Lemons wrote March 29 that he believes Pearce and McCaffrey called for the boycott out of a “childish, cowardly reaction to tough criticism meted out by this writer.”
Constantin Querard, Pearce’s consultant, called Worsley’s move “bizarrely desperate” and poorly thought out.
Querard said there’s a big difference between supporting a boycott against the entire state, which Grijalva did, and boycotting businesses that are supporting what he described as a “radical, leftwing” publication.
“To boycott a business that derives its income from some rather illicit and potentially illegal activities isn’t even remotely the same as trying to boycott your own state because you don’t want it enforcing the law,” Querard said, referring to charges that a classified ad site owned by the Village Voice Media, which also owns the New Times, is a hub for child prostitution.
The website, Backpage.com, counters that it screens ads for minors and reports to law enforcement suspicious ads.
Querard said it’s desperate for Worsley to cozy up to the New Times and invoke Grijalva, whose position “he actually supports when it comes to SB1070.” Worsley has criticized the state’s strict-enforcement only approach to confronting illegal immigration.
Meanwhile, Worsley also released his first campaign web video, where he talks about his business experience and how small businesses would benefit from a limited government.
“I will be a conservative voice for limited government, for families and for people of faith,” he said.
Pearce was ousted in a historic recall election in November, when he lost to a newcomer and now-Sen. Jerry Lewis.
Pearce announced in March that he’s seeking to win his old seat back. He and Worsley are squaring off in the new Legislative District 25.
Lewis, on the other hand, was drawn into neighboring Legislative District 26.