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Arizona, Elections, Politics

Ed Ableser’s ‘shameless’ campaign catches up to him

Posted: October 29, 2012 at 10:30 am   /   by

By Republican Victory Fund

When the final legislative maps of the Independent Redistricting Committee were released, Ed Ableser was a happy man.  His new district had an unmistakable Democratic voter registration advantage, and Ableser, a legislator so lazy he missed 40% of votes cast this past session, believed he had the Senate race for LD 26 in the bag.

Instead, in the last weeks of the election he has found himself in a dogfight with a thoughtful, independent candidate who has been one of the most tireless campaigners this election.  As a result, Senator Jerry Lewis has managed to do something few thought possible – make the race truly competitive.  And Ed Ableser reacted the way most lazy, and desperate, politicians do: He went straight for the gutter.

His campaign released a slate mail piece, along with the two Democrat candidates for the House, that depicted Jerry Lewis and the two Republican candidates for the Arizona House, Ray Speakman and Mary Lou Taylor, hung up by puppet strings with the caption “Meet your Tea Party Puppets.”  The three were accused of “funding Sheriff Joe Arpaio,” “taking $100,000 from crooked lobbyists” and, amazingly, “endorsing Russell Pearce” – with those words printed directly underneath a picture of Jerry Lewis.

The breathtaking dishonesty is hard to miss, and negative reaction to the piece was swift.  More importantly, it wasn’t confined to just Republicans.

Stephen Lemons of the Phoenix New Times, who was such a foil to Russell Pearce over the years that his organization pushed a boycott of the newspaper, unloaded.

“According to sources close to the Dems’ LD 26 campaign,” Lemons wrote, “the attack mailer was Ableser’s idea. And that’s not hard to believe. Butter wouldn’t melt in this guy’s mouth. He is shamelessness personified.”

Lemons even pleaded with one of the House Democratic candidates to distance himself from Ableser, advising Mr. Sherwood to “emulate Lewis, not Ableser. Ableser is just another hack on the make. Lewis is a profile in courage, a man of conscience. More Jerry Lewises are what this state needs. The Ed Ablesers we can do without.”

Arizona Republic columnist Laurie Roberts – she of “kook” fame who this organization has certainly taken umbrage with this year – was more measured, but had similar thoughts.  She concluded her column by offering that “it’s fair to say that no candidate should so badly want to be elected that he’d flat-out lie to win.”

However, the most revealing moment of this campaign wasn’t just the mailer itself, but Ed Ableser’s defense of it.

Ableser agreed to be interviewed by both Lemons and Roberts, perhaps believing that he was speaking to natural allies who were coming to his defense. Instead, Ableser dug himself a deeper hole.

Being unable to defend the ludicrous implication that Jerry Lewis, who once took a padlock to the groin during his bid to defeat Russell Pearce, is a Pearce “puppet,” he tried – and failed – to focus on the other false accusations in the ad.

As Lemons pointed out, the “funding” of Joe Arpaio came from a budget bill appropriating money for the Gang and Immigration Intelligence Team Enforcement Mission (GIITEM), of which the Maricopa Sheriff’s Office took part.  Regardless of the merits of this program, according to Ableser’s logic, any funding to the MCSO constitutes “funding” Arpaio – a crime for which apparently every County Commissioner over the past 20 years must swing.

As for Lewis taking in $100,000 from “crooked” lobbyists, it would have been a neat trick considering Lewis has so far only raised a total of $41,000 for his campaign as of the last filing.

“They are lobbyists from very suspect organizations,” Ableser told Roberts.  You know, like the Mesa Police Association, the Mesa Fire Fighters, and various Chambers of Commerce.

Ableser went on to state that “between Azscam, alt fuels, Fiesta Bowl, FBI sting – between all that stuff, in my opinion, I think no candidate should ever take money from a lobbyist because they have their own self interest and not the community interest at heart.”

No candidate, except for Ed Ableser.

Ed Ableser is the epitome of why so many are turned off by politics and become cynics. Should he prevail in his race against Lewis, it will be another example one can point to as evidence of a broken system, of why faith in democracy all too often devolves into apathy.

This is the guy that, according to the Capitol Times (subscription required), defended missing a stunning 432 votes the last two sessions by proclaiming that going down to the Capitol was a “waste of time and energy” because the legislature was a “mockery” that he refused to “participate in.” He maintained that his time was better “spent better working with my constituents.”

A few months later, after his part-time hours at the part-time Legislature became a campaign issue, Ableser self-righteously claimed his absences were due to his wife’s pregnancy in 2011, along with babysitting and trips to the doctor’s office.  Nevermind that he’s hardly the only member of the Legislature with young children, and that the son-in-law of a US Senator could probably afford a babysitter now and then.  His “babysitter” defense was nowhere to be found when the Capitol Times asked him about his missed votes a few months ago. Only after he saw some polls he didn’t like did he feel the need to drag his young family into the campaign.

There’s just a little over a week left before Election Day.  We can only hope that after that, as Mesa Mayor Scott Smith said, Ableser goes away. 100% away, not just 60% away.


  1. AriAsulin says:

    yeah, I can’t find a single piece of evidence regarding this claim, and I’ve spent 20 minutes now looking. So what’s the deal?
    I got a robo call from an unknown number claiming ‘ed abelger’ or something made this quote, yet can’t find it anywhere, except for blogs like this.Explain?

    1. NinjaTune says:

      After several tries, Sen. Jerry Lewis, R-Mesa, finally found a resident who was willing to step outside his door and talk about politics one Saturday morning in September.
      Armed with a voter list and a pocket full of flyers, Lewis, who is running for the state Senate against Democratic Rep. Ed Ableser of Tempe, had been knocking on several doors in a working class neighborhood in Tempe.
      The weather was just starting the transition between summer and fall.
      And at 10 a.m., it was beginning to get warm.
      Many residents weren’t home or chose not to answer, and he was about to leave one house when the door opened.
      Philip Habib, a 41-year-old construction worker who is also a strength conditioning coach, peered from inside and came out. A hulking man who sports a beard, Habib towered over Lewis.
      “Hi. I’m Jerry Lewis. I’m a new senator. I ran against Russell Pearce in the recall election last year,” Lewis introduced himself.
      The mention of the recall election, when Lewis defeated conservative icon Russell Pearce, grabbed Habib’s attention. He squinted and then nodded. So Lewis pressed on and asked which party he belongs to.
      Habib said he’s a Republican, and then added, “But I’m leaning independent.”
      The resident quickly summarized why he’s dissatisfied with his party: the GOP has veered too much to the right and he’s especially unhappy with its focus on social issues.
      He and his wife didn’t vote for Barack Obama in 2008, but he’s still the president and they wanted him to do a good job, Habib said.
      It turned him off, he added, that Republican leaders made it their overarching goal to make Obama a one-term president.
      “You’ve got 5,001 other things you need to do,” he said, and added he’ll consider voting for Lewis if he could offer the “likelihood of less stridency.”
      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.
      The candidate and the voter spent the next few minutes talking about jobs, the economy and what trees to plant in the front yard.
      But it was clear Lewis had made a connection, and Habib eventually promised to support him.
      It will be voters like Habib — who is moderate-leaning and open-minded — who could put Lewis over the top in his campaign for re-election.
      Those who are close to Lewis said they expect him to corner most of the votes in west Mesa, where he lives and which is now part of new Legislative District 26.
      But his challenge is to capture enough votes in Tempe, which has more than half of the new district’s voters and where Ableser, his opponent, is based.
      For Lewis, 55, to return to the Legislature, he again will have to defy history.
      Democrats hold a six-point voter registration edge over Republicans in the district that includes parts of Mesa and Tempe. No Republican has captured a legislative seat representing the bulk of Tempe in the past several election cycles.
      Even Rep. Ben Arredondo, a former Tempe councilman, changed his party affiliation to Democratic before successfully running for one of two House seats two years ago.
      In short, “Mr. Nice Guy” — Lewis’s moniker in the recall election against Pearce — might be the best independent-minded candidate who is running in the wrong district.
      That’s why some Democrats view the possibility of a Lewis victory as just that — a mere possibility.
      Kyle Moyer, a consultant for Lewis, acknowledged it’s tough for a Republican to win a partisan race in Tempe. Moyer knows this first hand. He was involved in previous campaigns by Republicans to represent Tempe.
      But Lewis enters the race without the usual baggage, Moyer said.
      Lewis began his political career by challenging and cutting short Pearce’s Senate term. Thus, he joined the political world without “that hard Republican label,” the consultant said.
      “He is as fluent in Democrat language as he is fluent in Republican language, so unlike Ed Ableser, he’s truly multi-lingual,” Moyer said, adding Lewis’s record will appeal to voters from the district.
      Lewis, who didn’t face a primary opponent in August, also avoided the usual trajectory that candidates go through in an election year, when they first pander to their base and then run to the center.
      Jason Rose, a prominent publicist in the Valley, echoed the view.
      “You cannot run as a conservative in that district and so Jerry Lewis starts with an obvious advantage because he’s not a conservative,” Rose said.
      “He doesn’t need to reinvent himself,” he said, adding Lewis “already” is a moderate-leaning Republican.
      But while he might have unseated Pearce, Democrats said Lewis’ values are still at odds with the new district’s priorities. Additionally, Lewis isn’t running against a neophyte.
      Ableser, 34, an Arizona State University graduate who once received a city of Tempe Martin Luther King, Jr. Diversity Award, was first appointed to the Senate in 2006 and then returned to Legislature as a House member in 2007.
      He’s been re-elected to the House twice, which means voters liked his work at the state Capitol.
      “Ableser’s advantages are his ties to the community and the support structure around him,” said Randy Keating, chairman of the Democratic Party in the district.
      “He’s been there for us for years. He’s our guy,” Keating said.
      Ableser told the Arizona Capitol Times that the race is a classic clash between candidates with differing visions of how to make Arizona successful.
      It’s a narrative that highlights Lewis’ Republican tendencies as well as Ableser’s Democratic values.
      For Ableser, their biggest difference is their views on public education.
      “He has voted in his one year in the Senate to basically continually take money away from public schools,” Ableser said, most likely referring to Lewis’s vote to expand the school tuition organization program, where taxpayers could get a dollar-for-dollar credit for contributions to groups that provide scholarships to private schools.
      Many Democrats believe that the school tuition program siphons off money from public schools. Democrats voted against the STO expansion in the last session.
      Lewis is a charter school executive.
      Ableser said he, on the other hand, has always championed public education. He also supports the ballot measure that would extend the 1-cent sales tax increase, whose revenues are earmarked for education. Lewis said Arizona should keep the promise that the current tax will be temporary and expire next year.

    2. NinjaTune says:

      Democrats are also expected to attack Lewis for voting for a budget that didn’t restore funding for KidsCare, the insurance program for low-income children, and other programs, such as money for schools’ soft capital funding.
      Republicans rebuffed Democrats’ efforts in the last session to revive KidsCare.
      In short, Ableser’s campaign and his supporters will likely paint Lewis as just another GOP lawmaker whose views and voting record don’t match the district’s leanings.
      Lewis’ campaign is prepared to aggressively counter that attack.
      In addition, his camp is expected to argue that since Republicans are likely to keep the majority in both chambers next year, Lewis is in a position to influence decisions on issues that are important to the district, such as the budget.
      “At least Jerry, as a Republican, has a vote in the caucus,” Moyer said.
      “So the question is: Is it better to have somebody with a seat at the table, who may agree or disagree with specific points within the budget, or somebody who doesn’t even have a seat at the table like Ed Ableser?” Moyer said.
      Some of Lewis’s allies are also likely to highlight Ableser’s poor voting participation record compared to the Republican, who didn’t miss a single floor vote.
      The Democrat holds the worst record for missing votes in the last two years, casting a ballot for only 61 percent of the time in the last session and 68 percent in 2011.
      Ableser said his absences were mainly because of family obligations, citing his wife’s pregnancy in 2011 and then babysitting and bringing their only child to doctor appointments this year.

      1. AriAsulin says:

        If that be the article, then I daresay Kevin flat out lied in this instance.
        Its trash like this that constantly turns me off to the Republican ticket. I’m still undecided on Lewis, but I’m going to need more than blatant lies and vitriol about his opponent.

        1. NinjaTune says:

          @AriAsulin Actually, I posted that article to back Kevin’s claim up, not dispute.  I thought you were disputing the pregnancy and babysitting claims.  Granted, Kevin added “self-righteously” to the fact, but that’s about it.  Last I checked, this was a conservative blog, not the Washington Post.What part of Kevin’s post do you dispute / can you not find a citation?  I’d be happy to help you using my profound Googling – link-clicking – copy & paste powers.

        2. AriAsulin says:

          so is a conservative blog not interested in hearing feedback on how their content is offensive to someone simply looking to do research on a candidate? The only reason I’m here at all is because this blog claimed to have info on Ableser, and I’d like to know what that info is without having to read a great deal of smear.
          for this issue, the ‘self-righteously’ editorializing was the point of my complaint.
          for the ‘waste of time’ comment, if you have access to the (apparently only) source for this, please paste it as well. I would be most interested in whether or not Ableser actually did say these things and why. Kevin did not quote him in context, or in any meaningful way to help me.
          thanks for the help!

        3. NinjaTune says:

          @AriAsulin You got it….”Only two lawmakers, Rep. Albert Hale, D-Window Rock, and Rep. Ed Ableser, D-Tempe, missed more than 20 percent of their chamber’s votes.
          Ableser, who missed nearly 40 percent of the House’s floor votes, offered no apology for his record and said his participation reflects what he sees as a waste of time and energy, trying to moderate the highly conservative Legislature.
          “They’re nuts. The Tea Party has taken over the state and made it a complete mockery. I’m not going to participate in that,” Ableser said. “My time is spent better working with my constituents.”
          Ableser rattled off several controversial Republican-backed bills from this past session that he said would have been worthless to even debate or vote on, such as a bill that would have made it illegal for any governmental institution to abide by a non-binding United Nations resolution on sustainability.
          He said he did make sure to come to the Capitol and fight on issues that he and his constituents have strong feelings about, such as the KidsCare funding and the state budget.
          Ultimately, Ableser said he equates his participation to dealing with a mentally unhealthy person.
          “I’m a mental health counselor,” he said, “and any mental health counselor knows you don’t engage with crazy. It only validates them.”

        4. AriAsulin says:

          @AriAsulin excellent. I appreciate you posting that for me.As I suspected, Kevin misquoted him. Instead of ‘legislation’ is a ‘waste of time’, Albeser was refering to TeaParty bills that would not survive a court constitutionality challenge a ‘waste of time’. I happen to agree there as the TeaParty has seriously wasted a great deal of time and resources with their wacky secessionist bills. My views aside, my original complaint was that Kevin very much sounded like he was misquoting people and it turns out he indeed was. I think this kind of new journalism is seriously killing us and felt the need to call him out on it. However, if that’s whats expected out of this ‘free press’, then so be it. Either way, good luck, thanks for the help, and always research your candidates fully!

        5. KevinMcn says:

          @AriAsulin Clearly you’ve got me dead to rights.  Ableser was referring to bills, not legislation. My apologies for the death of free press in America.

        6. AriAsulin says:

          @KevinMcn no idea what you just said or to what you’re referring to

        7. NinjaTune says:

          @AriAsulin  @KevinMcn Ari – do you know Ed?  Isn’t there a margarita party you should be attending?

        8. AriAsulin says:

          @KevinMcn When you have nothing to add to the conversation, and no counterpoints to make, you can always fall back on insults and charges of conspiracy. Not that it’s any of your business but the only Politician I’ve ever consulted for was Bob Worsley, who I also voted for. Feel free to ask him.
          Good luck figuring out your next denigrating response. You might want to ask Kevin for advice.

  2. KevinMcn says:

    What claim?

  3. KevinMcn says:

    Just click on the hyperlink

  4. AriAsulin says:

    Lol, i’m not going to pay money just to read the only alleged piece of evidence you have dude. 
    I’m a Jerry Lewis supporter. Voted for him during the recall. Still undecided between these two candidates.
    Problem is I’m getting a lot of robo-calls and seeing a lot of trash like this heavily editorialized article making claims with not a single shred of evidence anywhere. 
    What am I supposed to make of that?
    There’s a link to a contribution tracker. That’s about it.
    In case I’m not being clear enough, I really DO NOT APPRECIATE how much vitriol and dripping anger / editorializing you had in your article. 
    Seriously, this kind of stuff is killing us. It needs to stop. 
    Go ahead and delete my post or whatever it is you do with people who don’t agree with you

  5. KevinMcn says:

    Um, it’s the actual article where he was quoted. I’m sorry that isn’t good enough, but if Ed was misquoted he should have taken it up with the Capitol Times.

  6. AriAsulin says:

    Yeah, its not good enough. I suggest you elevate your game. Nothing in this article strikes me as believable. While it certainly may be true, the way you wrote it screams of editorializing quotes out of context. Automatically makes me think ‘untrue’. Is that the result you’re looking for?
    In journalism school, they teach you how to properly quote someone IN CONTEXT, and cited, in such a way that his statement isn’t misconstrued. 
    What you NEVER do is this:
    ‘Ableser self-righteously claimed his absences were due to his wife’s pregnancy in 2011, along with babysitting and trips to the doctor’s office’
    Whoever taught you about objective writing needs to be fired.

  7. KevinMcn says:

    Everything I quoted him as saying was verbatim. Taken right from the Cap Times articles.  As for editorializing, this is an editorial. That’s what they tend to do.

  8. KevinMcn says:

    Try reading the article all the way to the end.

Ed Ableser's 'shameless' campaign catches up to him