KPHO Channel 5 in Phoenix is the first to report that Republican challenger Jerry Lewis has defeated incumbent Republican State Senator Russell Pearce in the Senate District 18 recall election on November 8th, 2011. The most recent poll by Arizona Capitol Times and ABC15 showed Lewis leading by three percentage points.
The official numbers from the Secretary of State website. Out of 69,196 voters in SD18, a total of 20,307 votes had been recorded as of 11:00 P.M. on November 8th. However, there were absentee ballots to be counted as well; as of November 15th at 11:00 A.M., here are the latest totals:
-- Jerry Lewis: 55.20 percent (12,812 votes)
-- Russell Pearce: 43.61 percent (10,121 votes)
-- Olivia Cortes: 1.19 percent (277 votes)
KSAZ Channel 10 news video, contains a roundup of all local election results:
KTVK Channel 3 news video, focusing primarily on Russell Pearce's news conference:
Even though there remain thousands of early and provisional ballots to be counted, beginning at 10 a.m. Wednesday November 9th, Pearce has apparently conceded, telling the East Valley Tribune that he was disappointed in the outcome, saying he will spend some time with his family and his God before deciding what to do next. He thanked his supporters, and has not ruled out another run for elective office, to include a run for this same Senate seat next year. Pearce also noted that this was an unusual race, with no primary. That allowed all voters, including the district's Democrats and independents, to make the final decision. "This is going around the primary process," Pearce said. "Jerry Lewis could not win in a (Republican) primary. So it doesn't take but 10 to 15 percent of the Republicans to vote for him to make the difference."
Saying his campaign took the high ground, Lewis told 300 supporters that his victory brings a fresh voice to Mesa and a civil tone to politics. "We showed that civility is a sign of strength, not weakness," he said from the back yard of a supporter's west Mesa home where his campaign was conceived. He looks upon his victory as an opportunity to heal the divide in Mesa.
Although Jerry Lewis himself conducted an honorable campaign, many of his "supporters", who were more interested in dumping Pearce rather than electing Lewis, did not. Because both Lewis and Pearce are Mormons, DeeDee Garcia and the so-called Somos Republicans played the LDS card at every turn, attempting to portray Lewis as more worthy and more in line with official LDS thinking on immigration than Pearce. And apparently she and her ilk suckered enough Mormons into buying it, although some wised up to it early. One LDS member was appalled at how opponents of Pearce were playing the LDS card in an attempt to unnecessarily divide and polarize the LDS community, and expressed herself on KSAZ's discussion boards:
Meg Bowman November 8th 7:40 P.M:
I don't know where John Hook (KSAZ Channel 10 anchor) gets off saying that the LDS community has spoken their opinion about SB1070 simply because Lewis won the recall election. I am a faithful LDS member and quite frankly I am appalled at how Lewis has run his campaign using the name of our church to further his political career. Politics is not about religion and it is against our policy as "Mormons" to officially endorse a candidate.
Furthermore, I am in complete support of SB1070 and Second amendment rights. These issues are groundbreaking and have influenced a nation of people to look at how Illegal Immigration can affect our national, state, and local security and economy. SB1070 is not about legal immigration. It never was. This country is built upon immigrants and we are all immigrants to one generational degree or another. The fact that Lewis is weak on not only SB1070 but the Second Amendment as well makes me quite concerned about how the freedoms we have embraced and secured may now be threatened by a Pseudo-Republican Democrat.
State Sen. Andy Biggs (R-Gilbert), also an LDS member, also criticized Lewis for injecting religion into the election by advertising the positions he's held the Mormon church, including serving as a bishop. "There were a lot of people who knew who he was. He didn't have to advertise it. There was a flagrant misuse of the religion issue in this district. You don't run on the basis of your church position. He advertised his church position." Biggs added that recall organizers essentially branded Russell Pearce as a Mormon heretic, by saying his positions on immigration contradicted the church's position.