Dallas Tea Party candidate Katrina Pierson was able to collect an impressive list of endorsements during her campaign to defeat Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX). Those endorsements included FreedomWorks, Sarah Palin, and Maricopa Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
But then Arpaio un-endorsed Pierson saying she did not properly explain Sessions’s position on immigration and amnesty.
In an interview with TPM on Tuesday, the evening of the Texas primary, Pierson said it really wasn’t clear why Arpaio switched his support.
“Nobody sort of knows and he’s sort of been radio silent on the whole thing,” Pierson said. “All we can tell was from the release from Sessions’ office is that he and Pete’s dad were good buddies and he felt like that we misled him on amnesty and so I’m sure you also saw that the video of Mr. Sessions supporting amnesty’s purpose so we’re not quite sure what happened there.”
The video Pierson referred to is a clip of Sessions saying “we got to worry about trying to define these things and trying to separate” living in the country illegally from behaving in a criminal manner.
In late February Pierson announced that Arpaio had endorsed her candidacy. But a few days later, in early March, The Dallas Morning News reported that Arpaio had reversed his endorsement and threw his support behind Sessions. Pierson has argued that Sessions supports amnesty for immigrants living in the country illegally.
“I was told by Ms. Pierson and her supporters that Pete Sessions was in favor of weakening our nation’s immigration system and was a supporter of amnesty. I’ve since found out that couldn’t be further from the truth,” Arpaio said in a statement according to the Texas newspaper. “Pete has been a consistent voice for law enforcement and strong proponent of border security issues throughout his nine terms of service in Congress.”
A Sessions spokesman strongly lambasted Pierson following Arpaio’s change of heart.
“Mr. Pierson should be ashamed for misleading an individual of such great respect in the law enforcement community and as a national conservative leader,” Sessions spokesman Bruce Harvie said.
Pierson is one of the more high profile tea partiers running for a federal office (although she’s unlikely to defeat Sessions). The other is Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX) who is challenging Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX). Stockman is highly unlikely to beat Cornyn or even sap enough votes away from the incumbent senator to trigger a runoff.
TPM asked Pierson why she thought Stockman, who had previously been regarded as a tea party favorite, was unable to win any big endorsements or gain any real traction in his race.
“All I know is the grassroots are divided and that’s all I can tell you. That’s the one thing I can figure out with that situation is that the grassroots are divided,” Pierson said. “In my district, the 32, the grassroots aren’t divided so it just depends on the race.”
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