Recording suggests recall candidate is on the ballot to help Pearce

September 09, 2011

A third candidate has turned in signature petitions to get on the ballot in the recall election of Senate President Russell Pearce. Olivia Cortes turned in 1,177 signatures--500 more than is needed.  But a recording of a Cortes signature gatherer casts doubt on her true intentions. From Phoenix, KJZZ’s Paul Atkinson reports.

Soon after Republican Olivia Cortes filed paperwork with the Secretary of States office in July, political insiders questioned why she was running. Cortes has no political experience and articulated no specific ideas or goals. Then today, Democrat Andrew Sherwood, who ran against Pearce last year, posted this audio recording on Facebook. In it, a woman gathering signatures to put Cortes on the ballot explains why the candidate is in the race.

“To split the vote,” says the unidentified petition circulator. “Part of it is—the people who don’t want him will vote for both Jerry Lewis and her.  And so then Jerry Lewis won’t be getting all of that vote.  So Russell should come out the winner.   

Sherwood says it was recorded outside the Mesa library by an unnamed political activist.   Multiple messages left with Cortes, her campaign consultant and Russell Pearce have not been returned. 

Clint Smith is the campaign co-chair for Jerry Lewis—the main candidate running against Peace.  He says he was surprised the petition circulator gathering signatures for Cortes was so blatant.

“We were hoping to have this campaign on a higher level,” says Smith. “But when you deliberately do things to deceive voters like that, it’s just really disappointing.”

Cortes has white and green campaign signs that read “Si se puede.” And “I will represent the people.”  The recall election is November 8.

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