Justice has been served in Arizona, in a historic grassroots campaign to remove one of the most “Radical Right” members of State Senate in the country. He is responsible and most famous for the extreme anti-immigration legislation like SB1070. The people are waking up and speaking loudly!
Arizona Senate President Russell Pearce, one of the state’s most powerful and controversial politicians, appears certain to face what is believed to be the first recall election of a state legislator in Arizona history this November.
Maricopa County Elections Director Karen Osborne submitted a 1,200-page certification package to the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office on Friday morning determining that the recall effort has enough valid signatures from registered voters in Mesa’s District 18 to force a special election.
On Friday afternoon, the Secretary of State’s Office officially put the recall on the November ballot. Pearce, whose opponents decry him as an extremist with a radical agenda, has five days to either resign or face a recall election, which would pit him against other candidates for his seat.
Pearce, who did not return calls for comment Friday, has said he won’t resign. Groups already have started raising campaign funds on the Mesa Republican’s behalf.
But those involved in the recall effort are confident they will prevail.
“Today is basically a formal recognition that an earthquake has taken place in Legislative District 18,” said recall organizer Randy Parraz, a longtime political activist.
“This is another victory along the road toward the ultimate victory, which is to remove Russell Pearce from office.”
Citizens for a Better Arizona supporters have said they do not believe Pearce reflects the goals of District 18. They say residents want to see their leaders bring more jobs and improve education and health care, not push more legislation on illegal-immigration enforcement and loosening gun restrictions, as Pearce has done.
The group submitted 16,949 signatures to the county in late May. County elections spokeswoman Yvonne Reed said the county certified that 10,365 are valid. The recall group needed at least 7,756 valid signatures to qualify for the ballot.
Pearce has been a lightning rod of controversy over the past couple of years. He was the primary force behind Senate Bill 1070, Arizona’s tough anti-immigration law. He also unsuccessfully pushed several additional immigration measures this year, including a bill to change how children born in the U.S. to illegal immigrants are granted citizenship.
In addition to his controversial political stances, he also has come under fire for his involvement in the Fiesta Bowl scandal. Pearce is one of 31 state politicians ensnared in the controversy.
According to documents released last month by the bowl, Pearce stayed at luxury hotels and took family members with him on bowl-sponsored trips from 2002 to 2009. In total, the bowl said it spent more on Pearce than any other individual lawmaker: $39,347. Pearce has repaid the bowl $1,417.
Gov. Jan Brewer has 15business days to call the election, which is a formality and would not require any additional analysis of signatures. When contacted Friday, her office gave no indication as to whether it would take the full 15 days.
Pearce can file a legal challenge to the signatures in Maricopa County Superior Court. His attorney, Lisa Hauser, said they are still considering that option. She said they have a number of concerns.
“There are categories of signatures that were thrown out because they don’t match the voter’s signature,” Hauser said. “Any time I see anything that might point to some level of fraud on a petition, I look at those more carefully.”
She said they expect to make a decision within the next 10 days. “We have to decide what is our best allocation of resources,” she said. “But even if we don’t bring a challenge, it doesn’t mean we thought everything was fine with the petition.”
Parraz said his group has no concerns about a legal challenge. “We feel very confident with the numbers. We have a 33 percent cushion,” he said. “This is a testament to the people who have exercised their right to recall someone they feel is too extreme.”