Former Senate President Russell Pearce off to slow fundraising start

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By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas

PHOENIX -- Former Senate president and the author of Arizona's toughest immigrations laws, Russell Pearce, isn't the moneymaker he used to be. In fact, he's not even close.

Less than a year after raising more than $260,000 in his failed recall election, the Mesa politician managed to bring in about  $2,800 over the first five months of the year.

The totals were found in the campaign finance reports he quietly filed late last week with the Arizona Secretary of State's office. Pearce still has a big chunk of money left over from the recall as he tries to return to the Senate.

According to the finance documents, he has about $116,000 left over. But the fundraising totals for the current year don't bode well heading into the elections, according to some political experts like Arizona State University pollster Bruce Merrill.

"That's amazing, I'm shocked," Merrill said Monday during a telephone interview. "It indicates that a lot of his supporters are no longer his supporters or they don't think he can win."

Pearce is trying to make political comeback. Last year, Republican politician Jerry Lewis ousted the man the local media used to refer to as the "de facto governor."

Pearce now faces wealthy businessman Bob Worsley in Arizona's new 25th Legislative District, which includes a large part of Mesa. Worsley, who is the founder of SkyMall magazine, has not filed his spending reports, yet. Those documents are due today.

It's been widely reported that Pearce has had other problems raising cash for his campaign. Most notably, several Mexican restaurants in the Valley refused to let him book their place. Pearce, of course, is the so-call architect of SB 1070, the harsh immigration law the U.S. Supreme Court rejected most of last week.

Pearce has also changed who he uses to raise money. During the recall, Pearce used the same political consultants who help Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio raise money. Last week, the Summit Group announced the sheriff raised more than $1 million for his re-election this year.

Pearce did not immediately respond to phone calls and officials with the Secretary of State's office said his campaign has until midnight to amend their filings.