Russell Pearce's Mystery "Challenger" Olivia Cortes Speaks, Kinda-Sorta

cortes2.JPG
From one of Olivia Cortes' three Facebook pages

Who is Olivia Cortes, and why has she filed to run in the November 8 recall race against state Senate President Russell Pearce in Legislative District 18?

Over the weekend, I paid Cortes' modest condominium in Mesa a visit. A woman identifying herself as Cortes' sister came to the door. She said Cortes had gone to the store. She didn't know when she would be back.

I left my card and requested that her sister call me. 

Since then, I've called Cortes several times, sometimes leaving a message on her answering machine. Other times talking to her sister, who always tells me Cortes has gone to the store, and that she has no idea when she'll be back.

sonoranalliance.JPG
A photo of Cortes that appears in a Sonoran Alliance blog item

Yesterday, Cortes e-mailed me asking that I submit my questions in writing. 

I did so, and she responded with the answers below just as I was publishing this blog item.

I haven't been the only one trying to speak with Cortes and find out what she's all about.

DeeDee Blase, founder of Somos Republicans and leader of the National Tequila Party Movement, also phoned Cortes several times, speaking with her sister. Cortes eventually called her back. 

Blase wondered if Cortes needed help gathering the 621 signatures necessary to place her name on the November 8 ballot.

"She told me that she did not want any more volunteers," Blase explained via e-mail, "and she did not want volunteers to help her. I asked her if she had any political experience and she said no. Since she is running against Russell Pearce, I asked her if she had reached out to Jerry Lewis a fellow member of her church, and she said no.

"I don't understand Olivia. If she was running against Pearce, why wouldn't she reach out to the other candidate(s) to learn more about them before putting her hat into the race?

"I am looking forward to finding out more about where Olivia is getting help with regard to her signatures she needs since she has turned down volunteers. It's a tight closed little world with regard to the `elect Cortes campaign,' and that indeed smells fishy to me especially when she wants to run for a State senate position that will affect all Arizonans."

Along these lines, several sources have alleged to me that Cortes was recruited by someone in Pearce's camp, and that Pearce supporters will be collecting her signatures.

As you'll see below, Cortes denies this.

The advantage to Pearce of having a woman with a Latino name on the ballot is obvious. Political insiders from Mesa have indicated that this is part of Pearce's strategy to win: Dilute the anti-Pearce vote by offering up candidates other than Republican contender Jerry Lewis.

Cortes, who is in her late 50s, is also a Republican, and a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She has identified herself as being retired from the company Freescale Semiconductor, a former division of Motorola.

Her Facebook pages (she has three, with 36 "friends" at the most so far) note that she attended Mesa High School and Mesa Community College. In the past she has "liked" GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, and RightChange.com, a group that doles out money to Republican campaigns.

Concerning the claim by some that Cortes is a plant, I've left messages and sent e-mails to Matt Tolman, chair of Citizens Who Oppose the Pearce Recall, and I've e-mailed Pearce. Neither have responded.

Yesterday, when I spoke with Jesse Hernandez, a staffer for Republican Arizona Congressman David Schweikert and chair of the organization Patriots for Pearce, I asked him if he had recruited Cortes to run. 

He replied that, "I've never been in the same room with her."

Thing is, even if Cortes remains a stealth candidate, laying low and answering reporters questions by e-mail, she will eventually have to submit her signatures to score a spot on the ballot. Last day to file is September 9.  

When she does, the names of the people who circulated her petitions will be public record. At that point, it should be relatively easy to determine if there's someone else behind her candidacy.

CORTES' ANSWERS TO MY QUESTIONS:

1) Why are you running in the LD 18 recall election?

To offer the voters a choice.

2) You are a conservative Republican and have been described as a member of the Tea Party. You have identified yourself in the past as a Mitt Romney supporter. So, why don't you support Senator Pearce?

I am a Republican. I am not a member of any tea party. And my support for Mitt Romney does not obligate me to support Senator Pearce.

3) What qualifies you to represent LD 18?

I care for my community and my state.

4) I have more than one source who has informed me that you were asked to run so as to help dilute the anti-Pearce vote. How do you respond to this accusation? Is this true? Who asked you to run? Did they promise you anything?

That is not true

5) Who is collecting signatures for you?

My friends and I

6) Are you a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?

Yes.

7) Why don't you have a campaign website? Why haven't you held an official announcement or a press conference?

I am too busy collecting signatures to have time for press conferences. Plus reporters don't vote in this election, so i need to spend my time talking to actual voters

8) Where do you work now?

I am retired.

9) Is anyone running your campaign? If so, who?

I am doing it with the help of my friends

10) Have you ever met Russell Pearce? If so, how well do you know him?

I have never met Russell Pearce.

Thanks in advance for your responses,

You are welcome. I am not a fan of your newspaper and disagree with its agenda, but your questions are fair and reasonable. That said, i intend to spend my time in my district talking to my voters, so i do not expect to spend any more time debating this race with your paper.  I hope you understand.

11)Pardon me for asking, but I want to be accurate, are you 58 or 59? Also, has anyone from the Pearce camp or representing Pearce in any way contacted you? Same for Lewis.

I'm 58 years old and haven't been approached by Mr. Pearce camp, but have been asked to step down by Mr. Lewis camp.

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91 comments
cannondax
cannondax

I personally Know Olivia Cortez. There is no way in the universe that she, herself answered these questions. She is a nice timid soft spoken woman and there is no doubt in my mind that she is a Plant for the Pearce camp. As a member of the LDS Church Pearce and now Cortez have become an embarrassment to me.

Marcy
Marcy

Just another example of what Mesa voters are getting when they vote for Pearce, a man as dishonest and disreputable as the day is long.  A man who thinks it is OK to attempt to fool his own constituents with a phony alternate candidate to split the vote, a man who doesn't have the honor to run against Jerry Lewis one-on-one.

A slithering, stinky, bought and paid for career politician.

Ruth
Ruth

what she should be doing is spending time reading "politics for dummies" 

Coz
Coz

She's nothing but a distraction. A waste of time.

Mikey1969
Mikey1969

" Plus reporters don't vote in this election, so i need to spend my time talking to actual voters"

What.. Wha? You mean? No way...

That opened up a GIANT can of WTF? So sorry that you are denied to right to vote, due to your choice of occupation, Mr Lemons, that is some SERIOUS devotion to your trade, if you ask me.

Lostinphnx
Lostinphnx

wait a minute she is retired at 58??? you mean on welfare or food stamps or on workers comp someone needs to look into this fools background

Lostinphnx
Lostinphnx

ok another idiot running for office

just kat
just kat

I am really curious to know who answered that list of questions. Despite the consistently lowercase "i," I'm pretty sure that the response to the "thanks in advance" bit wasn't written by the same person who answered everything else. All the other responses have that minimal, "C student" vibe to them, but the part about not liking the publication's agenda seems almost dictated. I don't know what to make of that, but there it is.

wherewasi
wherewasi

It is so sad that this piece of work would betray Latino citizens by conspiring with the likes of Russell Pearce.  She appears to have no pride in her heritage and is being a willing whore to a bigot who probably hates her because of her lineage. Ms. Cortes has literally sold her soul to the devil.

Gerry_C
Gerry_C

Is Ms Cortez doing this as a favor?  Or is she being compensated in some way or another?

Tina
Tina

This is what Olivia Cortes filed with the Secretary of State's office, but don't try to write her at 863 W. Cherry, the mailing address given on left side of form.  There is no "W. Cherry" in Mesa, only "N. Cherry."   I gather her real address is 863 N. Cherry.    

Campaign Finance - Filer Details

Help

Filer Name:

Elect Cortes 

Status:

Active

Filer ID:

201200176

Filer Type:  

Candidate (Participating)

Registration Date: 

7/26/2011

Last Amended Date:

8/2/2011

Mailing Address:

863 W. Cherry 

Mesa AZ 85201

Phone: (480) 833-8294

Email: electcortes@gmail.com

Filer Address:

863 N. Cherry 

Mesa AZ 85201

Chairman: 

Cortes, Olivia

Treasurer:

Cortes, Olivia

Candidate:

Cortes, Olivia

Designee:

Office Sought:

State Senator - District No. 18

Party Affiliation:

Republican

County:

Maricopa

Cycle:

2012

Rachellwski
Rachellwski

and she still hasnt accepted my friend request :(

Chad Snow
Chad Snow

"I want to give voters a choice" - ("I just don't want them to know anything about what that choice is"....)  seems to be what Cortes is saying here. 

Olivia, you are so clearly a product of Constantine Querard's plan to dilute the field, you should be ashamed of yourself for not being truthful about it.  You should be ashamed of yourself for allowing yourself to be used by a desperate politician to pervert a legitimate political process.  If Pearce is so certain that the voters of Mesa know him and love him, he shouldn't need to recruit Fake Candidates.   

For your own dignity and self respect, you should admit you've been played and withdraw from the race.  If I'm wrong, please forgive me - and please provide us with the top 5 reasons you don't like Russell Pearce and why you want to replace him.   

Jessicamolen
Jessicamolen

I'm 58 years old and haven't been approached by Mr. Pearce camp, but have been asked to step down by Mr. Lewis camp."

Ofcourse she wouldnt be asked by Lewis' Camp, $he wa$ hired by Russell "i hate hispanics" pearce

Rachellwski
Rachellwski

Russell Pearce is playing dirty but the Hispanic Community isnt dumb, he is making assumptions by encouraging this "yes sir" woman to run. This day in age we have Twitter, Facebook and word of mouth! Jerry Lewis WILL WIN!

Tina
Tina

Matt Tolman's statements (below) are straight out of the 7/27/11 East Valley Tribune article, "Lewis makes run against Pearce in recall official."    ____________

Tolman said it's not surprising three candidates have entered the race and he expects more."If they want to run, I welcome them to run,"  Tolman said.  "It will just bring out the distances and help everyone understand who is who."

Bill Stephens
Bill Stephens

As a voter in LD18, this does seem fishy to me. Although I would SO vote for a hispanic women to replace Pearce, I won't be voting for Ms Cortes. I won't put it past the Pearce camp to plant a phony candidate.

Hock
Hock

Shennanigans.

Mistalee
Mistalee

Meanwhile, DeeDee Garcia of the Tucson Citizen is calling Cortes out as a Malinche,  and calling for people to go on latino radio and denounce her as such. http://tucsoncitizen.com/arizo...

Mistalee
Mistalee

Yesterday, when I spoke with Jesse Hernandez, a staffer for Republican Arizona Congressman David Schweikert and chair of the organization Patriots for Pearce, I asked him if he had recruited Cortes to run. He replied that, "I've never been in the same room with her."

Classic deflection. He didn't deny that he recruited Cortes to run. He simply said he had not been in the same room with her.

Gerry_C
Gerry_C

On the plus side, it appears that she is more educated and articulate than Rusty, if she actually wrote her own responses.  I hope she is smart enough to step aside and run in 2012 if she is serious.

Tina
Tina

Note that Olivia (aka Coughlin?) did not respond to Stephen's questions, "Who asked you to run? Did they promise you anything?" 

If she does file "her" petitions on Sept. 9, the notarized signatures of those who circulated each of the petitions will be telling.  Too many inconsistencies here.She is (or acts) clueless about recalled Russell Pearce whom she is challenging but offers nothing pro or con about his record as a lawmaker, a lawmaker her actions indicate she wants to replace.  If elected what are her priorities and how will she differ from Pearce?

Her evasive behavior is inconsistent with that of any wannabe politician.  One would think that she is aware that a political life is a public life, and that such entails being responsive to the press and media.   Is she aware that this Pearce recall matter in his Mesa, Arizona district has made the national TV networks, as well as the New York Times and TIME magazine?  That she might be receiving requests for personal interviews by those entities about her political philosophy, how it differs from that of recalled Pearce, why she is running against him?  Is she prepared?

Also incongruous is her inability or unwillingness to express any opinion about the infamous person (Pearce) she is challenging, i.e., conveying political ignorance.  Yet at the same time she tells the inquiring PNT reporter, "I am not a fan of your newspaper and disagree with its agenda."   What "agenda" is that, Olivia?

Will you be saying the same thing to reporters from other news outlets when and if you decide to come out of hiding?

I would like to see Olivia's answers to those questions, "Who asked you to run?  Did they promise you anything?"   Also, is there a possibility that she could have been intimidated or threatened? 

Not surprisingly, Matt Tolman (chair of Dist. 29 Republicans) said in a previous news article that the more candidates running in the Pearce recall election, the better. 

Marcy
Marcy

She isn't really running, her handlers will take care of getting her name on the ballot and Clean Election funds will be used to plaster Mesa with signs highlighting her Hispanic name.  She has no interest or intention or ability to run.  She's just doing Russell Pearce a favor.

Coz
Coz

I wonder what Pearce is paying her...

Tina
Tina

AMEN, wherewasi.   You nailed it.  

Shano
Shano

yes, and the Mormons have a strange way of convincing people they are doing right.  I do not trust any of the members of this cult to tell any outsider the truth about anything.  Amazing that her cult 'religion' is convincing her to betray her heritage.

helentroy4
helentroy4

If she would have filled out that form herself, she would NOT have made a mistake on her address. I know it's a 'small' mistake but at the same time it is very telling. Is there any way someone could find out who officially entered the document?

Tina
Tina

Chad ---

Read the post (above) submitted by Susurro Perferado (responding to Mistalee).   It's very thorough and was written and submitted hours after your post here.  It's a credible account of what Olivia Cortes is all about and her acknowledged intentions, very detailed -- which makes your question to her (asking for 5 reasons why she wants to replace Russell Pearce) on target.  The woman has zero integrity.

Tina
Tina

The devious plot thickens.  I had remembered the Constantin Querard name as the individual hired by Pearce to review the signatures on the recall petitions.  After reading Querard's history -- his own website says "he lives in a secured and undisclosed location somewhere near Phoenix" -- it wouldn't surprise me if it was he who put the "good word" (the lie) in Linda Bentley's ear that he'd found evidence of "massive voter registration fraud" in the petitions....which she then published for mass distribution. 

Querard is also "credited" by others for the makeup of the legislature itself, that its shift to the right is due to his influence and work with his vast number of clients who were/are Republican legislative candidates. i.e., he's the man behind the curtain, unknown to the general public.

Chad, your sincere message of advice for Olivia was so well stated. Does she understand yet that she's being used by the Pearce operatives? You won't be the first person to ask her to provide 5 reasons why she wants to replace Russell Pearce, and there will likely be scheduled public debates or forums as well. She can't hide with the man behind the curtain for the next three months.   

  Here's a list of some of his clients that Constantin Querard boasts.

Our ClientsCurrent and former officeholders who have relied on our consulting include:

Sen. President Russell Pearce

Sen. Majority Leader Scott Bundgaard

Speaker of the House Kirk Adams

Speaker of the House Jim Weiers

State Sen. Sylvia Allen

State Sen. Lori Klein

State Sen. Rick Murphy

State Sen. Linda Gray

State Sen. Steve Smith

State Sen. Don Shooter

State Sen. Gail Griffin

State Sen. Al Melvin

State Sen. Thayer Verschoor

State Sen. Jack Harper

State Rep. Judy Burges

State Rep. Brenda Barton

State Rep. Chester Crandell

State Rep. Carl Seel

State Rep. David Smith

State Rep. Michelle Ugenti

State Rep. Kimberly Ye

State Rep. Jerry Weiers

State Rep. Steve Montenegro

State Rep. Cecil Ash

State Rep. Tom Forese

State Rep. Peggy Judd

State Rep. David Stevens

State Rep. David Gowan

State Rep. Ted Vogt

State Rep. Colette Rosati

State Rep. Doug Quelland

Surprise Mayor Lyn Truitt

Discessio has also served as the principal consultant to both the Arizona Republican House Committee and the Arizona Republican Sen. Committe

Chad Snow
Chad Snow

P.S.  Ask Mr. Querard how his attempts to recruit other candidates are going.  LD18's a small place. 

Gerry_C
Gerry_C

There will probably be a few more phony candidates.  What are the avenues for campaign finance violation that could occur with these sham candidates.  One would not expect a sham candidate to go deep into their own pocket with zero benefit.

Tina
Tina

I too have "never been in the same room with her,"  but the putrid intolerable odor has traveled all the way from her house to mine several miles away, also in LD 18. Really bad.Give it up, Olivia. 

Susurro Perforado
Susurro Perforado

She was identified by Greg Western, head of the East Valley Tea Party, who lives in her neighborhood and attends her church.  Jesse Hernandez then sent a group of latinos over to her house and told her that she could help Russell Pearce by running as "a voice for latinos" to draw off votes.  She knows that she is a red herring candidate, and is lying to voters about her run.  She speaks broken, but functional English, and had those responses typed for her.  She has told neighbors in the recent past that she supports Russell Pearce and completely agrees with him on immigration issues (she was born in Mexico, but has been in America since 1971, and is a citizen).  She has now been coached to say that she opposes Pearce, etc., but people who know her know that she is lying.  This is reprehensible, dishonorable behavior, and is a desperate move on Pearce's part.

Chad Snow
Chad Snow

True, Mistalee.  If he truly had nothing to do with it, a simple "no" would have sufficed.  Reminds me of Clinton saying "it depends on what your definition of 'is' is." 

Tina
Tina

I think it is likely LD18's Matt Tolman  who initially connected with Olivia. Tolman is not only involved in Republican party LD18's  officialdom, but jumped in with both feet to head "Citizens Who Oppose the Pearce Recall" responsible for that 8 1/2 x 11 mass- mailed slick flyer to all LD18 voters about 3 weeks ago.

 The flyer unsuccessfully tries to paint Randy Parraz as the bad guy and Republican office holders as the good guys. "DO YOU STAND WITH RANDY PARRAZ AND HIS EXTREMIST FRIENDS WHO SUPPORT THE RECALL?" (turn to flip side) "OR DO YOU STAND WITH US?" (photos of Republican elected officials, Brewer, Arpaio, Horne, etc.)

Pearce could never have provided her with those responses (not his style or "job").  I think she's getting directives and advice from Tolman (who lives in LD18) and that Tolman is probably connecting with shrewd Coughlin (whose Highground obviously produced the flyer) for Olivia's evasive responses. Jesse Hernandez might also be in the loop for information purposes if nothing more.   Look how long it took her to get back to Lemons and Blase after their repeated calls.  Consultations needed first.  

The unknown is what's in it for her?  (Olivia)  Good to read Mistalee's update & info from Tucson.    

Tina
Tina

Oops,  that's Dist. 18 Republicans (not Dist. 29) that Tolman chairs.  (A long time ago we were Dist. 29)

Susurro Perforado
Susurro Perforado

Shano, Mormons are very diverse in opinion.  You may not be aware that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D) is Mormon, for example.  So is Glenn Beck.  They have people all over the spectrum.  Russell Pearce is an actively-attending Mormon, but so is Jerry Lewis, and Jerry is actually backed by the LDS leaders in Mesa, even though the Church proper does not have a position in the race and remains neutral.  So, your comments are uninformed and potentially offensive to the people working so hard to throw out Pearce.

Mistalee
Mistalee

Is it so amazing? The Mormon church has a strong undercurrent of racism. 

Coz
Coz

Wow, a list of the most corrupt in Arizona and they're proud of that ?

Adrian Cruz
Adrian Cruz

He needs to update that list to say

Recalled Senate President Russell PearceFormer (disgraced) Senate Majority Leader Scott Bundgaard

What a dream team of retards that list is!!!  Crazy Jack Harper to Creepy Carl Seel to Nutty Racist Gun Toter Lori Klein. 

Tina
Tina

I meant to say, "You won't be the LAST person to ask her to provide 5 reasons why she wants to replace Russell Pearce."

Tina
Tina

Thank you, thank you, thank you.  Everybody smelled a rat (or rats) but until your knowledgeable post, so much was speculation as to the actual identity of those rats and how they got here.  It's nauseating that someone would stoop so low.How right you are "that this is reprehensible, dishonorable behavior, and is a desperate move on Pearce's part."

Yourproductsucks
Yourproductsucks

I believe it is also known as "lawyer speak." I've given my signature to support her right to run for public office.

Tina
Tina

Good point.  Great "leadership," huh?

Joeyla91601
Joeyla91601

send comments on her facebook bag that people know the rat i just have

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