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Russell Pearce Rises

From Political Grave

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Russell Pearce at his re-election announcement event. Image by Jeff Moses.
The Once-Recalled, Former Arizona Senate President Announces He Will Challenge Sky Mall Founder Bob Worsley For Republican Nomination


By Jeff Moses
Modern Times Magazine

March 21, 2012 — Sheriff Joe Arpaio came to Mesa Monday to make official what he called, “the best, worst kept secret of the year.”

Was it that he would not be running for another term?

Unfortunately, no.

Was it that he had finally been charged by the U.S. Justice Department?

Again, unfortunately, no.

The announcement from America’s Toughest Sheriff — and also the country’s most toxic sheriff, don’t forget — was that he was proud to help kickoff the re-election campaign of his long time crony and opportunistic paragon, Russell Pearce.

For those who might have forgotten “Rotund Russell,” he is the former Arizona senate president who was recalled from office last November because of his abrasive management style, bitter political battles and a little thing called SB 1070.

Nevertheless, slightly less that six months later, Arpaio, Pearce, and a room full of his constituents —  rich, old, white TEA-Partiers — joined him in the auditorium of East Valley High School to pour adulation upon a man who has not stopped trying to divide this state for more than two decades.

“Russell Pearce is my hero” was uttered by almost every speaker as they touted the deposed senator for his “courage” in running for office again.

The speakers were a Who’s Who collection of anti-worker, anti-immigration, and anti-common sense conservative legislators including the gun-toting Ron Gould, anti-solar corporation commissioner Gary Pierce and John Kavanaugh, the author of SB 2675 (the now dead state legislative bill that would have added $2,000 to a student’s college costs).

Disregarding the crazy political record of Pearce, I have to admit he sure is courageous.  For Pearce to run again so soon after his recall — and against Bill Worsley, another white, moderate Mormon who happens to be super rich (he founded Sky Mall) — well, that takes downright chutzpah.

The Red Mountain TEA-Party hosted the event and as any good political party should, they started their meeting with a prayer, followed by the pledge of allegiance.  Such practices, ironically, are done about 30 seconds after the TEA-party supporters opine about constitutionalist ideals like the separation of church and state.

“It is a pleasure to be on the stage with these valiant stalwart defenders of freedom,” said Arizona Rep. Justin Olson, a man, who like the room itself, oozed American nationalism.

“Defenders of freedom” was an interesting choice of words with Sheriff Joe, Russell Pearce, Ron Gould and John Kavanagh on the stage.

Arpaio’s claim to fame is that he runs the cheapest jail in the country, but that is mostly because it is also the most inhumane jail in the country.

Gould has supported privatization of the state park system and has voted for the Corrections Corporation of America to run prisons in this state. One might say he has a “vested” interest in freedom. Gould regurgitated the phrase made famous by Jesse M. Unruh, “money is the mothers milk of politics.” But where Unruh was speaking to how that needed to be stopped, Gould appeared to be telling it like it is, without a worry to ethics.

Kavanagh is an ex-cop whose recent bill SB 2675 would have stifled thousands of Arizonans freedom to obtain higher education.

Just what freedoms are these guys defending?

Other speakers mentioned people like Randy Parraz and Nancy Pelosi, looking for the crowd to boo and jeer. One even claimed that the Parraz-led Citizens for a Better Arizona “perverted the state constitution” with the recall.

Speaker after speaker reiterated how amazing former senate president Russell Pearce is, and they touted his award from the Goldwater Institute for being “The strongest ally against government encroachment on liberty.”

Before the much adored Pearce could take the stage, though, the pep rally was interrupted for a “patriotic” video of dead soldiers and military grave sites set to the Battle Hymn of the Republic. The episode was reminiscent of what George Orwell called “the two minutes hate” in 1984. This was real-life, though, not a novel. The scene was “complete” with a red-sleeved woman behind me standing straight up, arm out, hand flat, in what looked like a Nazi salute. The only thing missing was a chorus of “sieg heil.”

Pearce finally addressed the crowd after about an hour and 20 minutes worth of innuendo about how everyone knew he would announce his candidacy for the state senate.

Pearce bashed the media and denounced his detractors. Then, he bragged about what a great constitutionalist he is. He even went as far as to claim that SB 1070 protects the immigrant communities more than it criminalizes them. Something that Pearce’s friend and speaker at the event Rep. Steve Montenegro also pointed out.

“Not all immigrants are liberals who are hopelessly addicted to big government spending, the truth is that to American Latinos, other issues matter more than immigration like education for their children,” Montenegro said.

That was a nice sentiment from Montenegro, who like the other speakers spoke very highly of Pearce on his fiscal record, as well as educational policy.

But long-time Arpaio foe Randy Parraz says Pearce “doesn’t get that he doesn’t invest in adult education, he won’t invest in higher education, and he wants to cut public education and he wants to blame teachers and their pensions.”

“When he was senate president he told the president of U of A, Mr. Shelton that,  ‘I savor the opportunity to cut your budget,’” said Parraz.

The night ended with Parraz attempting to goad Sheriff Joe into a battle of words by offering him an autographed “Recall Pearce” sign, but the cool headed Sheriff wasn’t buying simply asking “Why don’t you ever visit me Randy?”

Good old Sheriff Joe is hard to read at times, but he likely didn’t want to see Parraz at his office, but Tent City.

Some defenders of freedom, huh?

Jeff Moses is a freelance writer and photographer from Teaneck, N.J. He has been published in The Mesa Legend, and The Highway Herald. Contact him by calling 727-385-0624.
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