Friday, July 25, 2008

Arizona Capitol Times: "Pair of committees set out to ‘excise’ Pearce from Legislature"

By Jim Small

A pair of committees backed by businesses and other opponents of the employer sanctions law appears to be aiming to defeat the law’s architect this fall in his bid for reelection to the state Senate.

One of the independent expenditure committees will target Mesa Republican Rep. Russell Pearce in this September’s primary election. Farrell Quinlan, a volunteer political consultant for the Judgment Matters committee, said the committee likely will spend money in several races, but the District 18 Senate race between Pearce and Kevin Gibbons is its top priority.

“Rep. Pearce has been a leader of a certain brand of policies, and many people in the business side of the argument have decided to come together,” Quinlan said.

He declined to say who had contributed to the committee or how much had been raised, other than to note there were “a lot of verbal commitments” from the business community.

A letter Quinlan wrote and e-mailed to potential donors asks for “surgically-timed” contributions to “help excise Russell Pearce and his strain of politics from Arizona’s legislature.”

The other committee, Mesa Deserves Better, was created by the chief supporters of an employer sanctions ballot measure that would relax hiring restrictions on businesses. However, committee Chairman Nathan Sproul declined to elaborate on the group’s intent and strategy.
“Mesa Deserves Better is an independent expenditure committee. That is all we are publicly disclosing right now,” Sproul said.

Pearce said he expects both groups will oppose him and characterized their supporters as being opposed to the rule of law.

“They have no respect for the public,” he said. “It’s profits over patriotism.”

Although Sproul would not say whether Mesa Deserves Better would work to defeat Pearce, his involvement indicates that likely will be the committee’s purpose. Through the end of May, Sproul’s two consulting businesses — Sproul & Associates and Lincoln Strategy Group — were paid more than $500,000 to run the campaign for the employer sanctions ballot proposition.

Sproul also has been directly involved with Wake Up Arizona!, a coalition of businesses that formed last summer to oppose the employer sanctions law.

At that time, the group said it planned to work to defeat legislators it viewed as responsible for the law.

Pearce said he was not surprised that opponents of the sanctions law were lining up to defeat him in his bid to replace the retiring Karen Johnson in the Senate. The additional attacks thrown his way won’t change his campaign, or his eventual victory, he said.

“Let them do whatever they’re going to do. I stand solid behind the U.S. Constitution,” he said.

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