If you’re going to insist they’re “moderate” it would be nice if they were, you know, moderate

25 Sep 2012 08:50 pm
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 The bill requires the use of outdated protocols that are medically unnecessary and costly.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

PP scores

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.


  1. Comment by John Kavanagh on September 25, 2012 11:21 pm

    At least he was there to vote. Ablesser missed about 40 percent of the votes.

  2. Comment by Donna on September 25, 2012 11:24 pm

    He says it was mostly because of his wife’s pregnancy. Not very “pro-life” of you to criticize him for that, Rep. Kavanagh.

  3. Comment by Donna on September 25, 2012 11:26 pm

    Also, his name is spelled Ableser. Those of us with frequently misspelled names should at least endeavor to get each other’s right!

  4. Comment by Stephanie on September 25, 2012 11:44 pm

    Is there a Democrat in that district running? Are they campaigning against him?

  5. Comment by Donna on September 26, 2012 12:16 am

    Yes. Rep. Ed Ableser is running for the seat. It’s the one vacated by Dave Schapira, so Ed is basically the “incumbent”. Sorry I didn’t include that info.

  6. Comment by Tyler on September 26, 2012 12:00 pm

    So, you compare Lewis against Shapira’s record, yet Shapira isn’t running. Ableser is. So compare Lewis’s votes against Ableser if you want to provide any sort of valuable information. Both of these candidates are practicing Mormons. Do you really think they’ll be that different on these issues? That Lewis voted against the contraceptives bill–the only Republican to do so–shows he is in touch with his district, and is independent.

  7. Comment by Tyler on September 26, 2012 12:05 pm

    One more thought for you: the Republicans are going to run the Senate, but without a super-majority. The only question is whether an extreme, Pearce-like, wingnut, aka Andy Biggs, will be in charge; or will a moderate, business-focused Republican like Steve Pierce run the show. Lewis is a swing vote, and will control the entire agenda of the Senate. Voting for Ableser is a vote for nutjob Andy Biggs, who will drive through an extreme agenda.

  8. Comment by Donna on September 26, 2012 1:05 pm

    Yes, Tyler, he gets a cookie for voting against the contraceptive bill. But Lewis voted for every other awful CAP anti-choice bill.

  9. Comment by Donna on September 26, 2012 1:06 pm

    Oooh, Pierce is “business focused”! How awesome!

  10. Comment by mike slater on September 26, 2012 3:09 pm

    A moderate is someone that licks their finger, sticks up in the air to see which way the political winds are blowing. They have no core values.

  11. Comment by Tyler on September 26, 2012 4:19 pm

    Sometimes I would agree with your assessment, Mike. In the case of Lewis, however, “moderate” means that instead of focusing on armed militias, guns on campus, “nullifying” the federal government, and obsessing over starving out illegals, Lewis is focused on funding education, eliminating waste, and creating a tax and regulatory environment that foster economic growth and jobs.

  12. Comment by mike slater on September 26, 2012 4:52 pm

    Tyler, speaking of funding education do you plan on voting yes on Prop. 204? I know I’m not. The whole idea of throwing more money at education is bogus. As far a jobs are concerned government doesn’t create jobs. All government can do is provide policies that encourage job growth.

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