As the recall race between incumbent Arizona Republican State Senator Russell Pearce and his Republican challenger Jerry Lewis heads into the home stretch for the November 8th showdown, the Arizona Capitol Times has released the results of a poll of 598 likely voters in Mesa’s District 18. The poll, in which 160 of the respondents identified themselves as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, shows Lewis with only a three-point lead, well within the margin of error, and less than the unofficial seven-point lead reported back on October 17th. The specifics:
-- Jerry Lewis: 46.0 percent
-- Russell Pearce: 43.0 percent
-- Olivia Cortes: 2.5 percent
-- Undecided: 8.5 percent
Crosstabs reveal no significant edge in support for either Lewis or Pearce by age, gender or religious affiliation. Lewis, Pearce, and Cortes are all LDS members; while Cortes has withdrawn from the race, her name will still appear on the ballot. Pearce holds the financial edge, having raised $230,000 as compared to Lewis’ $69,000 according to the latest campaign finance reports. KNXV Channel 15 video embedded below:
The Pearce campaign published a response, posted in part below:
First, it should come as no surprise that this survey shows a tight race. After all, it’s essentially a primary campaign where voters from all parties can vote.
Second, one could argue that the sample size for an automated survey was much too low to effectively gauge voter opinion. We would agree with that argument.
Third, the universe selected for this survey of likely voters does not match up with actual voter history in the district. For example, the actual number of independent or unaffiliated voters in that district that are defined as “likely” in this survey is actually much higher.
Finally, this wasn’t necessarily a blind ballot test among the electorate. The introductory statements leading up to the ballot test question could have potentially biased the survey in one way or another.
In conclusion, we know that in an unprecedented, historical election such as this one, I think all parties can agree that predicting a turnout model is difficult to say the least.
Bloggers Stephen Lemons and DeeDee Garcia continue to hack away at Pearce. Garcia has been trying to lure Pearce into showing up for a so-called "immigration fireside" hosted by the so-called "Somos Republicans", and featuring another prominent Mormon, Daryl Williams, who has spoken out against Arizona SB1070. But Pearce, perhaps sensing a possible setup, has wisely refused to respond to this invitation.
Lemons takes a few more whacks at Pearce HERE, saying that Pearce is falsely atrtributing the decline in Arizona's crime to the influence of SB1070. Lemons also claims that Pearce's assertion that the state budget is balanced is false, further claiming that the state's current debt is $8.5 billion. But this could be attributable to a difference of definitions of a balanced bduget; nearly every state has a so-called balanced-budget amendment requiring that their General Fund expenditures not exceed revenues, but that alone may not mean their budgets are truly balanced. Lemons is so desperate for Pearce to lose that he's even smeared Pearce's brother, Mesa Justice of the Peace Lester Pearce. And Lemons admits that skewering Pearce has been good for his brand and has been "a helluva lot of fun", which means his objectivity is thoroughly compromised.
Until now, Jerry Lewis has sought to wage an issue-oriented campaign, remaining above the muck of some of his supporters. But the MeetJerryLewis website reveals that Lewis has at least three skeletons in his closet:
-- First, he's accused of defrauding taxpayers of $1.9 million; his Sequoia academy was receiving tax dollars even though parents are paying tuition. Lewis owned up to it, stepped down as principal, and no charges were pressed. Sequoia ended up reimbursing the state for the funds.
-- Second, he's supposedly being sued by a former teacher, Diane Fernichio, who claims she was fired because she exposed the fact that Lewis misappropriated donated items. The Lewis campaign claims that that the items that were given away were of practically little value, and the teacher who got them ended up not selling them at a yard sale anyway. Furthermore, Lewis himself is not named in the suit; the Sequoia academy is the defendant.
-- Third, Lewis is being accused of glossing over a multi-level marketing bankruptcy scandal ("multi-level marketing" is just a euphemism for "pyramid scheme"). This seems to be a reach; it happened back in the mid-1990s and I'm not sure this is particularly pertinent to the campaign.
The race is still too close to call, but it appears Russell Pearce is slowly closing the gap on Lewis, and could overtake him on November 8th if he can swing the Undecideds to his favor. Jerry Lewis may indeed be qualified for the job, but not at Pearce's expense.