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Looking for a rock to crawl back under
Sometime in the near future political science students will study the last two years of Arizona politics as a lesson in how not to serve the public and campaign for office. In particular, they'll read about Tuesday, August 28, 2012, when former Senator Russell Pearce, until recently dubbed "de facto governor," was handed his ass in a GOP primary race by a political neophyte.

Russell Pearce has traveled in the wackadoodle world of Arizona politics a long time. He was a deputy with Sheriff Joe Arpaio, where the two peckerheads plotted and eventually acted out their Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum racist routine for decades. All this time Pearce worshipped at the feet of Bircher, conspiracy nut, and Mormon fundy Cleon Skousen, who believed the US Constitution was divinely inspired and could only be saved by white Mormon men. Pearce brought that bigotry to the legislature, when in 2001 he won a House seat in Mesa's ultra-conservative District 18. For years most onlookers considered him a kook—that crazy uncle in the attic raging against "invading" Mexicans, socialist Democrats, femi-nazis, gays, environmentalists, and commie professors.

But after Obama's 2008 election and the tea party's 2010 Summer of Hate, Pearce's ugly policies became fashionable in Arizona, and with help from Jan Brewer, Joe Arpaio, and a bent-over GOP, he pushed through his legacy legislation: SB 1070. At the same time, Pearce was elected President of the Senate, and most political observers considered him the most powerful official in Arizona. Russell Pearce was riding high.

That was only two years ago. Here's how Pearce's campaign for the District 25 senate primary ended Tuesday night:

[A]t southeast Mesa's Rockin' R Ranch, a few Russell Pearce supporters gathered in a mirthless, musty-smelling room where a portable projection screen would soon be spelling doom for his attempted political comeback.

At that point, Pearce was nowhere to be seen, and in short order, reporters and photographers were informed they would not be welcome to stay as he watched the returns with supporters and fellow "tea party" candidates.

Much, much later, word came that Pearce would make no public statement at all, a blanket of silence now shrouding the man who, in Arizona and the nation, had spent so much of his career making noise. Arizona Republic

Russell Pearce's downfall confirms that even conservative Arizonans do not take kindly to lies, dishonesty, hate, and misplaced hubris. Newly installed as Senate President, and acting as King Russ, he barred critics from the Capitol grounds, and arrested them when they tried to enter the senate chambers. Then he tried to ram through five hateful anti-Latino measures against the wishes of many in his own party and the state's business community—resorting to dishonest tactics like a lying letter from a "teacher" that said Hispanic students are lazy, stupid, and want to take over America. All five of Pearce's overreaching bills were defeated, even with a 2-1 Republican majority, and his head nearly exploded. The King's castle was crumbling.  

When the recall drive was announced in the summer of 2011, Pearce initially pooh-poohed the opposition's chances, since, after all, he had been elected six straight times in District 18. Still, taking no chances, his team put up a sham candidate to siphon votes from the eventual winner Jerry Lewis—a dishonest strategy that backfired big-time on Pearce in the media, the courts, and eventually the voting booths. On November 8, 2011, the former President of the Senate lost the recall by more than 12 points.

Pearce's political comeback started immediately, or so he thought. He landed a gig on the Ban Amnesty Now radio show, where he could keep his name and his odious ideas before the public. Early this year he was elected Vice President of the Arizona Republican Party (yeah, the GOP leadership is that crazy), and soon after that he announced his bid for the 2012 senate primary in the newly drawn District 25.

But then something happened: the gobs of outside money that Pearce had collected for his recall race, much of it solicited (illegally it turns out) by fellow traveler in hate Tom Tancredo, wasn't there anymore. As of this month, Pearce had raised about $2,600, and only $300 of that came from his own district; more than half of opponent Bob Worsley's $17,000 total came from District 25.

Simply put, even Republicans had had enough of Russell Pearce's bullying and hate. The entire Mesa City Council and the Mayor endorsed businessman Worsely, who had never run for office (he created SkyMall). Very few Republicans would stand alongside Pearce. Even Jan Brewer, who owes her governorship to SB 1070, was "not inclined" to endorse her old friend. Pearce reverted to dirty tricks again: He claimed endorsements from people who didn't support him. He erected signs that said he was backed by the Arizona Teacher's [sic] Association, an ungrammatical group that doesn't exist except on Pearce's fantasy campaign signs and the office of one tea party nitwit. (Another sign said he had received an EDUCTION award.)

Current events also collapsed in on Pearce, helping to end his senate bid. In May his former friend J.T. Ready murdered a family, including a child, before putting a gun to his own white supremacist noggin. As much as Pearce denied their association, his old Nazi ties, complete with photos and video, resurfaced in news stories. Then in July the media published a series of racist emails, acquired by the ACLU, that Pearce had sent to fellow bigots. Finally, after the shooting at the Aurora movie theater, Pearce posted a callous diatribe on his Facebook page, blaming the tragedy on the victims because they didn't rush the shooter, like "the men of flight 93." He semi-apologized, and painted himself as a victim of a media witch hunt, but it was too late.

Pearce lost his senate primary race on Tuesday by 12 points, the same spread by which he was defeated in last year's recall election. Oh, and Tuesday his brother Lester, who helped orchestrate the sham candidate stupidity, and who was running for county supervisor, also lost—by 12 points.  

There's a rock somewhere, waiting for Russell Pearce to crawl back under it.

Originally posted to Maggie's Farm on Thu Aug 30, 2012 at 05:16 PM PDT.

Also republished by Baja Arizona Kossacks.

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