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Republican write-in Pesqueira drops Tucson mayor bid, citing lack of support

Al Pesqueira, a GOP write-in candidate, has ended his long-shot campaign for Tucson mayor, citing a lack of backing and endorsing independent candidate Ed Ackerley.

Pesqueira, a staffer at a charter school, would not have had his name printed on the ballots set to be mailed out in less than two weeks; he didn't attempt to qualify to be listed by running as a write-in in the August primary.

"I make this decision with much reflection and thought on several matters. I greatly appreciate all the verbal support and social media posts I received. I realized the disadvantage I had starting this so late in the election," Pesqueira said in a "resignation letter" he posted online.

"I thank the five donors we had for their donations," he wrote, and "the three people who showed up to the committee meetings we had."

"Do not write my name on any ballots, this would be a wasted vote," he wrote.

Without Pesqueira's candidacy, there are no Republicans seeking the Tucson mayor's office in the 2019 general election.

Pesqueira was unable to gain the support of the Pima County Republican Party for his novice bid, despite meeting with the chairman, David Eppihimer.

"The party didn't plan on having a mayoral candidate and there (were) no funds available to help my campaign," Pesqueira told TucsonSentinel.com on Tuesday. "They have everything tied up in the the City Council candidates."

"We are all still in agreement that we cannot have Romero as mayor. There is only one candidate left who supports the No Sanctuary city and has a conservative platform. Dr. Ed Ackerley is that man," Pesqueira wrote, also endorsing the three Republican candidates for City Council: Sam Nagy, Ewart Williams and Mike Hicks.

Ackerley, a registered Democrat for more than 40 years, changed his party registration in January in order to run for mayor as an independent.

"We were only able to get a limited amount of signs and do some flyers and cards with such a low budget," wrote Pesqueira, who took down his campaign website Tuesday. "We never were able to advertise and do bigger signs and bumper stickers and another items like I would of liked to have done."

A batch of small red-and-white yard signs that Pesqueira had made had to be corrected with stickers after the URL of his campaign website was misspelled as "herandnowtucson.com."

Pesqueira will have to file a termination statement with city officials to remove himself from the list of recognized candidates. Once he does so, any write-in votes for him won't be tallied. The deadline for any other write-in candidates to file for the general election was Saturday. None did so.

Pesqueira would have had an uphill climb even with a well-funded campaign and his name printed on ballots.

There are 117,000 registered Democrats in Tucson, and 58,000 Republicans, as well as 81,000 non-party voters in the city.

With Democratic nominee Regina Romero, independent candidate Ackerley and Green Party pick Mike Cease all appearing on the ballot, Pesqueira would have had to have had more voters write out his name (and spell it reasonably close enough) rather than just fill in a bubble, as with the others.

Despite his statement in his letter Tuesday, Pesqueira had six donors to a GoFundMe for his campaign set up in late August, raising $600 of the $750 he pulled in with two donations that month. He quietly filed his candidacy paperwork with the City Clerk's Office on Sept. 4.

Pesqueira, who said he's a Tucson native and Marine veteran and has been a youth pastor, had set up a "#PreacherforMayor2019" group on Facebook on August 8.

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That's the day that he said he first spoke with staffers at the City Clerk's Office about running for mayor.

The deadline to file to run as a recognized write-in candidate in that election was July 18, nearly a month prior.

"I assumed someone was running for the Republican primary. Only after receiving my ballot did I find out Sam Nagy wasn’t running for mayor," Pesqueira said. "I felt that someone needed to run."

Nagy, also a political newcomer, had attempted to gather enough nominating signatures to run for mayor in the Republican primary, but fell short. Because he filed his petitions but didn't have enough signatures, he was barred from trying to get on the general election ballot by running as a write-in in the mayoral primary. Instead, he shifted to the Ward 1 City Council race, where he cleared the bar by garnering more than 84 write-in votes.

Pesqueira had quietly encouraged people to write in his name on GOP primary ballots, only learning after the August 27 primary that votes for him hadn't been tallied because he hadn't declared his candidacy a month earlier. A write-in candidate would have needed at least 1,167 votes in the Republican mayoral primary to qualify to appear on the November ballot.

Some 4,800 Republicans did write in something on the mayor line of their ballots, but because there were no declared candidates, no votes were tallied.

Ten times as many Democrats participated in their party primary, with more than 49,000 casting ballots across the city.

The last day to register to vote in the city general election is October 7. Ballots in the all mail-in election will be sent to voters beginning October 10.

"I'm a member of the veteran community and an avid motorcycle rider as well - Live Free, Ride Free!," Pesqueira's campaign site read. "My faith is still very important to me and my family and we stay active in our home church."

Among the bullet points on the campaign platform that appeared on his site, Pesqueira said he supports:

  • Making homes and apartments affordable
  • Legalizing recreational marijuana, with a portion of fund earmarked for education
  • Expanding public transit and building more bike, carpool and motorcycle lanes
  • Creating a "task force that pursues and entices companies to move to Tucson"
  • Giving incentives to businesses to move into commercially vacant areas
  • "I embrace strong border security"
  • "I want to help all immigrants that come here legally"
  • Creating a "city H. R. Department that helps individual citizens of Tucson in planning and advising their career paths"
  • Giving residential water customers credits for conserving water on a quarterly basis
  • Using solar energy in all city buildings
  • Requiring all "subcontractors with the city" to use solar energy
  • "New construction will also have solar energy as primary resource of energy"
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