Posted by: Donna
Back in 2011 when Mesa businessman Jerry Lewis was recruited to run against then Senate President Russell Pearce in the recall race for then LD18, he was generally described as a “conservative Republican” but nicer and not virulently anti-immigrant. Democrats were discouraged from running in the recall and the Democrat who did file was exposed as a conservative backed sham candidate. And Russell Pearce went down, which was a testament to the hard work and smart strategy of Citizens for a Better Arizona, the group that initiated the recall. Russell Pearce was gone, yay, and he was replaced by the genial-but-still-conservative Jerry Lewis, who ran as “Mr. Nice Guy”.
Now, somehow, Jerry Lewis is running in a different district. And somehow, he has transformed himself into a moderate. The Cap Times had a piece yesterday about Lewis’s race against Tempe Rep. Ed Ableser. It’s been redistricted, but this is essentially David Schapira’s old Senate seat. The article is behind a paywall (sorry) but here’s a quote that demonstrates how Lewis is marketing himself in the new LD26:
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.
The candidate then described the bills he balked at, such as the proposal to allow employers not to pay for their workers’ contraception coverage over religious objections.
It was nice that he did that, but does it make him a moderate? Since Lewis is making reproductive rights the issue on which he claims to have a maverick independent streak, lets look at the Planned Parenthood legislative scorecard. They rated legislators on 6 bills:
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 The bill requires the use of outdated protocols that are medically unnecessary and costly.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
HB 2625 – (Strike-all) Contraceptive Religious Discrimination – Rep. Debbie Lesko. This bill allows many employers who have a religious objection, to refuse to provide coverage for birth control in their health plans, allowing employers to impose their religious beliefs on to their employees, particularly women. It also allows an employer to discriminate against an employee who has independently obtained birth control. This bill could allow Arizona employers to fire a woman upon finding out that she used birth control for the purpose of preventing pregnancy. Signed into law 5-11-2012
HB 2627 – Rep. Debbie Lesko. This bill excludes Planned Parenthood from eligibility as a qualifying organization for The Working Poor Tax Credit. It excludes organizations that serve the working poor from qualifying under the “working poor donation tax credit” program for charitable organizations if they provide abortion care. Signed into law 4-17-2012
HB 2800- No Public Funding for Family Planning – Rep. Justin Olson. This bill attempts to prevent Planned Parenthood from providing services to AHCCCS and Title X patients and prohibits any governmental entity from entering into a contract with or making a grant for, family planning, to any organization that performs abortions. Signed into law 5-4-2012
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
SB 1009 – (Strike-all) Promote Childbirth and Adoption in Schools – Senator Nancy Barto. In all instructional programs, public schools must promote childbirth and adoption as preferred options to abortion. Signed into law 4-12-2012
So Lewis voted against the creepy boss contraception bill. Again, good for him! He gets a cookie for that! But he also voted for the harshest 20 week abortion ban in the nation. He voted to yank funding to Planned Parenthood. Which means he voted to make it difficult to impossible for poor women in AZ to obtain birth control even as he opposed limiting the ability of middle class women who obtain insurance through their job or a family private health plan. Let that sink in. Lewis sponsored the bill cutting Planned Parenthood funding and the one that holds doctors harmless from litigation if they fail to inform expecting parents of serious health defects in a fetus.
This isn’t the recall anymore. Lewis is in a regular election running to take a Democrat out. If he wins he’s one more member of the GOP caucus, and he’ll vote with them the majority of the time. If no Democrats take any of the 5 competitive Senate races, the veto-proof GOP majority is one member larger. You can see here how often in 2012 (very often) Jerry Lewis joined his fellow Republicans to sponsor egregious wingnuttery such as attacking the Independent Redistricting Commission and trying to yank the Renewable Energy Standard from the Corporation Commission.
Yeah, he’s not Pearce, thank goodness, but he’s not a moderate either. He reminds me a lot of Jeff Flake.
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