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Winning: Political manipulators ply trade from D.C. to Chicago to Mesa

It seems that sleazy political tricks are oozing through every crack in the sidewalk. From Washington to Chicago to Mesa, political figures will say and do just about anything to get elected — or to prevent someone else from getting elected.

I grew up in Chicago where there was no shortage of political shenanigans. For example, there was a fabled alderman, Paddy Bauler, who ran a popular saloon not far from the Rush Street strip of night clubs, bars and restaurants. Bauler, responding to a call to clean up corruption, was widely quoted as saying, “Chicago ain’t ready for reform.” At least Bauler, who died in 1977 at the age of 87, was honest, sort of.

Then there was a tale about a Chicago alderman who was trailing badly in his bid for re-election. He needed something to pump up his campaign in his crime-ridden West Side district. A week or so before the election, about 3 one early morning, someone threw a Molotov cocktail through the window of his store-front campaign headquarters.

Because no one was working in the office at 3 a.m., of course no one was injured. Damage to his campaign headquarters was substantial, but not to his campaign. Later that day the alderman proclaimed that hoodlums were out to get him, but that he would fight on. His political stock soared, so the story goes, and he won re-election handily.

Another example of what some would call political deviousness (corruption) in the Windy City involved a park commissioner who tried to pass a measure requiring softball players to wear gloves. In Chicago, where 16-inch softball was, and probably still is, the rage, no one wore gloves. It seems the commissioner had a good friend in the sporting goods business who would have benefited greatly if every softball player in the city had to buy a glove. The glove gambit never got to first base.

Today, in our nation’s capital, Republicans and Democrats squabble over just about everything, especially if it has to do with money, which just about everything in Washington does.

Without considering the merits of various programs and proposals to get the nation’s economy moving again, it seems that Republicans won’t buy anything that Democrats, and particularly President Obama, are selling. Republicans generally say that it’s another tax-and-spend liberal Democratic plan. Democrats, of course, disagree. They say the only thing Republicans are interested in — a full year from the 2012 election — is maintaining the economic status quo so Obama will be that much easier to defeat. Damn the economy — full speed ahead to another year of political posturing.

And in Mesa, where Senate President Russell Pearce is facing a Nov. 8 recall election, the political shiftiness taking place during the campaign would make Chicago pols proud.

It’s hard to believe that Pearce had no knowledge of what the alleged sham candidate, Olivia Cortes, was up to, why she was running, and who put her up to it. It has been well-accepted that she was there to siphon Hispanic votes away from Pearce’s No. 1, and now only challenger, Jerry Lewis. Cortes’ name remains on the ballot, though she officially ended her non-campaign earlier this month.

It’s also hard to believe that Pearce’s brother, Lester Pearce, a justice of the peace and former state senator, had no idea what his niece was doing when he rode with her while she was gathering petition signatures to get Cortes on the ballot. The Arizona Code of Judicial Conduct flatly forbids a justice of the peace or judge from taking part in any political campaign other than their own.

And, it’s really hard to believe that Russell and Lester Pearce — as politically savvy as they are — were oblivious to what was going on around them.

Yet, I’m sure they realize that the real bottom line in politics, regardless of philosophical leaning, is getting elected. No matter how noble or nefarious a candidate’s goals are, he can’t accomplish them if he is rejected by voters.

Winning is everything. Sad, but true.

— Don Harris is copy editor and a freelance writer for the Arizona Capitol Times.


  1. If Pearce wins, what will he have lost?

  2. Interesting why this commentator failed to mention last year the Democrats paid for and distributed marketing material for a Libertarian running against Rep David Schweikert to dilute the vote and keep Dem Harry Mitchell in office (Schweikert won). Dems did the same thing in Tucson for a Libertarian GOP competitor of Raul Grijalva.

    Typical ChicagoLand writing. And the Pearce vs Lewis recall has all the markings of Obama and his crew of, SEIU, IAF (both Parraz and Obama were alums), and other mob-controlled unions. They have even boasted that they will take out Walker in Wisconsin and now Pearce in Arizona. Next, they say, will be AZ House Leader Montenegro-his sin? Montengro is a conservative hispanic.

    Harris-stay in Chicago. We are tired of outsiders coming into AZ and hijacking our elections. We are appalled at the corruption and crony capitalism of the Obama regime. Now you are trying to pick off our highest regarded, national icon only because he is a conservative.
    AZ State Andy Biggs:

    Mesa’s District 18 has one of the most effective legislative leaders in recent history, but a group of outsiders has hijacked the will of Mesa voters, forcing a new election and raising the real possibility that Senate President Russell Pearce could be forced out of office. President Pearce understands their needs and works to make the East Valley and the state of Arizona better places. They have a Senate president who successfully engineered one of the most effective sessions in memory. President Pearce promised voters a truly balanced budget, and he delivered with a package that balanced the books without crippling state agencies. Andy Biggs

  3. What the Pearce Family, Mrs. Cortes, Russell Pearce himself?, and hundreds of Stellar Citizens in LDS19 have done, is not just a “Sleazy Political Act.”, All Persons knowingly involved have Committed a class five Felony, which comes with nine months to two years jail time, and the loss of their voting rights for life as Felons!

    Sleazy Felons!

    They have made a mockery of America’s Electoral System, and the “Rule of Law”.

    To: True Justice for All.

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