A Latino organization that is backing former senator Russell Pearce is giving businessman Bob Worsley an earful for allegedly mischaracterizing the group in a radio interview.
The two Mesa Republicans are vying for their party’s nomination in the race for state Senate.
As a guest on KFYI, Worsley had strongly implied that a cloud of doubt surrounds the authenticity of groups that have endorsed his opponent.
He then mentioned two — the Arizona Teachers Association and the Arizona Latino Republican Association.
“You look at two of his endorsements, The Arizona Latino Republicans and the Arizona Teachers Association. (These are) two things you would not naturally think would be something he would — he could claim that he has endorsements from,” Worsley said.
The Arizona Teachers Association registered as a political committee with the Secretary of State in March. Some began to doubt its authenticity after Pearce’s signs appeared touting the group’s endorsement.
The Arizona Latino Republican Association immediately seized on Worsley’s comments and accused him of mischaracterizing the group as having been formed solely to endorse Pearce.
The group described Worsley’s remarks as “offensive suppositions.”
“Whether he did so intentionally or simply spoke out of ignorance of the prevalence of politically conservative Latinos, Bob Worsley made a serious miscalculation,” the group’s president, Ray Torres, wrote in an email.
Torres is also the spokesman for the state House majority.
“He insulted all of Arizona’s conservative Latinos by suggesting that no Latinos would legitimately endorse Russell Pearce,” Torres said.
Torres said his group has existed for more than 10 years and includes as members Republican precinct committee persons, Tea Party activists and Republican officials.
The group said it endorsed Pearce because he’s the only candidate who “consistently advocates (for) the rule of law and who also enjoys a proven record of conservative leadership.”
Worsley’s campaign didn’t backtrack from his comments. Speaking for the campaign, Ryan Anderson said Torres’s group is “stretching and trying to make connections that aren’t there.”
Anderson acknowledged that Worsley did insinuate that a teachers’ group and a Latino organization are not two associations that an average voter would “naturally assume are supporting Russell Pearce, particularly given Pearce’s record of severe cuts to the public education system and given his recent emails – excuse me, forwards – that likened Hispanics to ‘lepers’ and Mexico as a ‘leper colony’.”
Anderson also told the Arizona Capitol Times that the members of the Latino group are “very close” to Pearce and never reached out to Worsley.