Two days ago, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled that the recall election for Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce can proceed. So there was a lot of interest as Senator Pearce spoke tonight at the Mountain View Tea Party in Mesa, which spans his own legislative district and neighboring LD 19. The room was filled to about quadruple the usual attendance, about half of whom were Tea Party members.
We were braced for some possible fireworks, as we know how the media has portrayed Senator Pearce as a divisive figure and the center of controversy. And so, a couple of police officers were asked to be on hand and special security rules were put into play. But I must say that it appeared to me to be a love-fest from beginning to end. Senator Pearce got a standing ovation when he was introduced and another when he finished. He took a number of questions and comments, and there was not a single antagonistic comment or question. There were no protest signs. Senator Pearce went through his legislative record and an enumeration of various ballot initiatives that he has proposed. What struck me is that they have all been common-sense issues supported by a large number of people, and what seems to make Senator Pearce a lightning rod in the minds of some people is that he has the courage to stand up for these issues.
The ballot initiatives Senator Pearce mentioned were all passed, and by an average percentage of 75% of the vote. Sounds to me like he has been promoting a lot of mainstream stuff.
We also heard a history of the recall effort and the driving force behind it, well-known community agitator Randy Parraz.
And while Senator Pearce enjoys strong support from his district, I do have some fears about the recall effort, which consist of fears for the political naivete of some in the district. Parraz has engineered the election so that Senator Pearce faces another candidate very similar to himself in many respects, but more moderate, and no Democrat is running. The opposition is LDS, just like Senator Pearce, a man with a Boy Scout background and strong ties to the community. And it appears to me that it is a decent man who is being naively manipulated by a devious agitator whose goal is to intimidate others who may have political courage similar to Senator Pearce’s. I am also LDS, and I can understand the appeal of the opposing candidate to LDS people.
It’s a carefully crafted, slithery, devious plan. I hope the people aren’t fooled. This election isn’t about selecting the most qualified senator from the district – not at all. It’s about punishing political courage. Members of LD 18, if you don’t vote to retain Senator Pearce until the next regularly scheduled election, you are sending a message of intimidation to every honorable, courageous politician in the state. There will be other opportunities for Senator Pearce’s opponent to serve without having to go along with this scheme.