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By: Lynn Kelly on 10/04/2011
A judge is allowing a Mesa woman to remain on the ballot in the recall election of Senate President Russell Pearce. That, despite ruling the candidacy of Olivia Cortes is an orchestrated attempt by the East Valley Tea Party to keep Pearce in office. From Phoenix, KJZZ’s Paul Atkinson reports.
Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Edward Burke ruled Cortes would not be on the ballot if not for the efforts of the East Valley Tea Party. Burke called Cortes a political neophyte who was recruited to divert votes from Jerry Lewis—the other candidate on the recall ballot. But Burke stopped short of banning Cortes from running, saying she had committed no fraud. He also cited overseas votes already cast as a reason for not stepping in. Tom Ryan is the attorney who challenged Cortes’ candidacy.
“We smelled a rat," says Ryan. We knew that she was a sham candidate.”
Ryan told told Capitol Media Services that he’s still hoping to prove the fraud charges are serious enough to warrant removing Cortes from the ballot.
“There are a lot of people that read, saw, listened and were upset and offended and have come forth with evidence that we didn't have even as of last Thursday," Ryan says. "This isn't over.
Cortes did not return a call for comment. Pearce has maintained he’s never met her. Candidate Jerry Lewis says he’s still focused on giving voters an alternative to Pearce.
“They can have the same as it’s been," says Lewis." "Or they can have somebody that will listen to them and seek real solutions to real issues and bring honor to our office and our city.”
Early voting in the recall election begins next week.