State, Federal Candidates Attend Meet And Greet Republican Event



Photo by Don Ascoli

Arizona Corporation Commissioner Gary Pierce (left) spins the cage to rattle off a winning raffle number as Patty Ihle looks on. Pierce and about 24 other Republican local, state and federal candidates attended a meet and greet hosted by the Rim Country Republican Club Saturday at Rumsey Park.

About 25 Republican local, state and federal candidates attended a meet and greet hosted by the Rim Country Republican Club Saturday at Rumsey Park.

The candidates, or their representatives, milled through the crowd and also had tables with campaign literature.

Gary Pierce, the corporation commission incumbent who suggested that Los Angeles be more careful of issuing boycotts against the state that provides 25 percent of its power, also spoke at the event’s end.

The day offered Payson residents a chance to meet many of the candidates listed on upcoming ballots, said Don Ascoli, the president of Rim Country Republican Club.

He estimated that anywhere from 150 to 200 people circulated in and out during the event, which ran from noon to 4 p.m.

“Our board kicked it around,” Ascoli said. “How can we expose Payson to the candidates we’re going to see on the ballot on Aug. 28?”

All told, 24 candidates or their representatives attended the event, including Tea Party gubernatorial candidate Hugh Kealer, a person for Dean Martin and someone for Owen “Buz” Mills, also both running for governor.

Five candidates for the U.S. House attended and four representatives for the Payson constable. Others included candidates for the state house and state Sen. Sylvia Allen, who is running to keep her seat.

Payson resident Betsy Gruber said she stayed for the whole event.

“We just registered (to vote) in Payson about a year ago and we weren’t familiar with the candidates,” she said. “This is perfect for us.”

At the day’s end, Pierce rallied the crowd by talking about the letter he recently sent to Los Angeles, which said he would “be happy” to encourage renegotiation of the agreement that sends Arizona power to Los Angeles. The move came after the Los Angeles City Council voted to boycott Arizona and companies based here to show opposition over the immigration bill.

“It’s been a fun week,” Pierce said. “I had the good sense not to go on Anderson Cooper. They asked.”

CNN told Pierce they would have him debate a member of the L.A. City Council, and then a studio audience would vote on who won. Pierce declined the offer, but he said the city council person didn’t want to debate him.

“They are cowards. All they want to do is score political points,” said Pierce. However, he cited a recent Rasmussen poll that found 68 percent of Americans support Arizona’s new policy.

The Huffington Post called him the Forrest Gump of politics, said Pierce. “How can you pick on Forrest Gump?”

Los Angeles dumps medical waste in Arizona, besides providing electricity. “There’s a lot that Arizona does for L.A.,” said Pierce. “I think that’s going to come out in the next week or two.” He added, “I hope they get embarrassed by it.”

Patty Ihle shouted from the audience, “I’m from south central L.A. and I hope to God you turn the lights out on them.”

Pierce said, “They’re going to have a power outage or something this summer and say, ‘Oh. It’s that Pierce guy.’”


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