Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Monday, October 8, 2012

Is State Sen. Jerry Lewis a Moderate Republican?

State Sen. Jerry Lewis is a good man. By all accounts a kind man. To first become a state senator, he ran and successfully "knocked off" nativist Senate President Russell Pearce in the historic Legislative District 18 recall election. That made him, at least for a time, a hero to many. And he has a killer smile.

Lewis took office in an environment where many of the members of the Senate Republican Caucus were Pearce loyalists and highly resented him. But Lewis was undaunted and served the entire 2012 regular legislative session.

Eventually he decided to run again for the state senate in the entirely NEW Legislative District 26, which encompasses west Mesa (where he lives), much of Tempe and the Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community. LD18, where he was first elected, was predominantly Republican in voter registration.

According to the Arizona Secretary of State's office (as reported on August 14, 2012) LD26, where he is now running, has registration as follows:

  • 27,150 Democrats
  • 288 Green
  • 988 Libertarian
  • 21,807 Republican
  • 34,274 Other (Independent or No Party Designated)
So, conventional wisdom, which Lewis appears to be following, is that in order for him to win, he must convince voters that he is not a Tea Party type Republican. 

How is he going to do that? 

The first thing he appears to be trying to do is market himself as a strong willed, independent minded senator who is not afraid to vote contrary to what his caucus wants him vote. 

Donna Gratehouse, who blogs at DemocraticDiva.com posted, on September 25, excerpts from a story reported by the Arizona Capitol Times:
That was the opening Lewis was waiting for.
He told Habib he ran against and defeated a “very strident” legislator. He said his voting record would show his independent streak, and he voted against his party’s wishes when he thought it was best to do so.
Yes, about that voting record...

Democratic Diva goes into some of the details, one example:
HB 2036 – (Strike-all) – 20 Week Abortion Ban – Rep. Kimberly Yee. This bill prohibits abortions post 20 weeks, except in a medical emergency with no exception for health or for a fetal anomaly. Physicians are threatened with criminal and civil penalties as well as unprofessional conduct sanctions and loss of license. The bill requires the use of outdated protocols that are medically unnecessary and costly. Signed into law 4-12-2012  

Lewis voted WITH the RWNJ supermajority on this bill. Some perspective on this bill is that the 20 weeks is counted from PRIOR to conception. That might explain why Todd Akin claimed very recently that some women who are not even pregnant get abortions.

Perhaps Lewis voted his conscious on the bill because of religious conviction and not because of pressure from his colleagues? Well, Rep. Ed Ableser, Lewis' Democratic opponent in this race shares the same religion -- but voted AGAINST imposing governmental mandates on a woman's health care and personal religious freedom which is what this bill is all about. Another example:
SB1359 – Wrongful Life/Birth – Senator Nancy Barto. SB1359 protects doctors from fully informing pregnant women of prenatal health issues if such information could lead to an abortion. Signed into law 4-17-2012 
Actually, this bill EMPOWERS doctors to LIE to pregnant women about the fetus. Lewis was a prime sponsor of SB1359. He also voted with the Republican majority to EMPOWER doctors to LIE to pregnant women. Yes, I know I repeated it. I'm astounded at the hubris of Republican lawmakers.

On other legislation:

Lewis voted with the Republican supermajority on HB2640 which specifically PROHIBITS putting a limit on the capacity of firearms magazines. Recall that magazine capacity was a critical factor in the number of people killed and injured on January 8, 2011 in Tucson. The Republican response, to the attempted assassination of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, in the Arizona Legislature was to PROHIBIT limiting the firearm magazine capacity. And Jerry Lewis went right along with the flow of the insane Republicans on this issue.

Lewis both sponsored AND voted with the RWNJ supermajority on SCR1035 to REPEAL the Independent Redistricting Commission. The measure would have put the issue on this year's general election ballot. It passed the senate but did not come to a vote in the House of Representatives. The PEOPLE of Arizona already spoke on this issue. Let's not entirely rehash last year's AIRC controversy in this blog post.

Lewis currently works as an administrator for a charter school organization. He voted with the RWNJ supermajority on a bill, SB1047 that WILL allow (it was signed into law) for up to a $1,000.00 state tax CREDIT (a direct reduction of personal income tax liability) for a married couple making a donation of that amount to a school tuition organization (STO).

STOs provide funding for private school tuition. This is an example of SELF-INTEREST legislation pushed and directly benefiting state Sen. Steve Yarbrough (R-Chandler).

The list of special interest legislation that Jerry Lewis sponsored and voted for -- when he had ample opportunity to demonstrate his backbone and independence but FAILED to do so -- is long. Perhaps I will update this blog with more detail after a night's sleep.

The bottom line is that Jerry Lewis, a man I genuinely like, has a smile that is sweetly seductive but hides the truth about his record as an Arizona lawmaker. If he was running in a Republican district against someone like Russell Pearce or Andy Biggs(hot), I would support him in a heartbeat.

But he is not. He is running in MY district. And my district is going to elect a Democrat who has a record of fighting FOR the people in the district instead of going along with extremist Republicans.

For the record, THIS blog post is all about accountability. I do not (and cannot) attack Jerry Lewis on any personal issue. But the detail of his record as a state senator needs to be in the forefront as voters decide for whom to vote in this election.

State Sen. Jerry Lewis (R-LD18) is NOT a moderate Republican, despite any and all claims to the contrary.

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