Arizona Senate President Faces Possible Recall Vote
By John Gramlich, Staff Writer
Arizona Senate President Russell Pearce has won 16 primary and general elections in his legislative career. None of them, however, are quite like the one that his political opponents are planning for this November.
Pearce, a conservative Republican who authored the state's controversial immigration law last year, stands a strong chance of becoming the first sitting Arizona Senate president ever to face a recall vote. His critics have collected far more than the 7,700 signatures needed to force such an election, and local officials have signed off on the effort, Capitol Media Services reports . Pending final approval of the recall by the state elections office, Pearce could be on the ballot as soon as this fall.
If Pearce is recalled, he would become the first Senate president in any state ever to be ousted from office, according to Randy Parraz, head of the grassroots group trying to remove Pearce.
"The president of the Senate is such a powerful position," Parraz tells The Arizona Republic . "Most people in those positions don't behave in a way that anyone would even think about trying to recall them."
It is Pearce's conservative legislative agenda that has so upset Parraz and others. Besides pushing through SB1070, the divisive immigration measure, Pearce has also pushed the so-called "birther bill," which would have required President Obama and other presidential candidates to prove they are U.S citizens before their names could appear on the state ballot. (Republican Governor Jan Brewer vetoed the bill, saying it went too far.) Pearce has further taken aim at the federal government by supporting legislation that would allow state lawmakers to nullify federal laws they believe to be unconstitutional.
Despite the recall effort, Pearce has expressed confidence in his chances of being retained, should the recall election happen as planned. "I trust the voters of Mesa," he told Capitol Media Services this week. "They know me. They know who I am."