Pearce discusses so-called sham candidate in recall race


by Stacey Delikat

Posted on September 27, 2011 at 10:17 PM

Updated Tuesday, Sep 27 at 10:21 PM

MESA, Ariz. – State Senate President Russell Pearce says he has no ties to recall opponent Olivia Cortes and said he didn't know why his supporters had helped get her name on the ballot.

Pearce made the comments at a Legislative District 18 Republican meeting in Mesa where he was the guest speaker.

Cortes is running as a Republican in the race to recall Pearce.

She has made no public appearances, hasn’t done any fundraising and has refused to talk to the media.

Her lack of activity in the race has sparked accusations from critics that she is a sham candidate, planted to strip votes away from Pearce's other opponent, charter school executive Jerry Lewis.

Several Pearce supporters, including an East Valley Tea Party leader, and Pearce's own relatives, are believed to have helped Cortes get on the ballot by circulating petitions on her behalf.

Pearce said he only learned of those accusations in recent news reports.

"First I heard about it was on the news," Pearce said when asked if he knew of the links between his supporters and Cortes' campaign. "Maybe they want an option besides Jerry Lewis for people to vote for...I'm not a mind reader. I have a lot of issues but me reading minds isn't one of them, I have no clue."

Pearce said he has not funded Cortes' campaign in any way.

"I don't even know her, never met her, never been a part of anything with her," he said.

Last week an LD18 voter filed a lawsuit asking a judge to throw Cortes off the November 8 ballot. That voter, Mary Lou Boettcher also filed a temporary restraining order Monday against the Secretary of State's office, asking them to hold off on printing ballots with Cortes’ name.

Later that day it was learned the ballots had already been printed. Pearce called that lawsuit a sham.

3TV has been unable to reach Cortes for comment.