When Gov. Janet Napolitano comes to the defense of Rep. Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, because of a negative attack, as she did last week, there’s no longer any doubt that someone has crossed the wrong line.
Pearce’s Republican primary race against newcomer Kevin Gibbons for a state Senate seat has been one of Arizona’s hottest political topics this month — primarily because of deeply offensive campaigning by an independent expenditure committee, Mesa Deserves Better.
Pearce has a lengthy record in elected office with lots of public interviews and hundreds, if not thousands, of votes on legislative matters that should provide plenty of material for anyone who truly believes he’s the wrong person to represent west Mesa’s District 18.
Instead, Mesa Deserves Better has focused more on extraneous moments from Pearce’s life. The most outrageous allegation is a 28-year-old unsubstantiated claim of domestic violence against Pearce concerning his wife. It’s dirty politics at its slimiest — forcing both Pearce and Gibbons to discuss subjects largely unrelated to how they would serve for the next two years as a state senator.
Negative attacks are used often in political campaigns because they usually work. Pearce’s own strategists and supporters have launched their share of broadsides against Gibbons.
But once in a while, the mudslinging goes so far beyond the pale that the intended victim picks up new votes, if only out of sympathy for the candidate who was wrongly maligned. Gibbons can only hope that doesn’t happen in this case, and he has rightly condemned the actions of Mesa Deserves Better.
West Mesa Republicans need to weed out the campaign trash that has been arriving in their mailboxes and base their votes on what really matters.