Arizona State Senate President Russell Pearce successfully recalled from office
By: Greg Janetka
MESA, Arizona: According to unofficial election results, Republican Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce has become the first state legislator in Arizona history to be recalled. Challenger Jerry Lewis, who is also a Republican, took 53.2 percent of the vote to Pearce’s 45.25 percent. With Pearce conceding, he has become the third state legislator to be recalled in 2011, joining the two Republican Wisconsin state senators voters recalled last August.
In claiming victory, Lewis stated, "Our opponent was the most powerful politician in Arizona and one who had deep pocketed and powerful interests from outside our district backing him, as well as the entire muscle from our state Republican Party."
|Recall of Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce, 2011|
|Russell Pearce Incumbent||43.5%||10,121|
|Olivia Cortes (withdrawn)||1.2%||277|
While not explicitly stated in the recall petition, the campaign was seen as a vote on immigration policies. In the only debate of the campaign, Lewis and Pearce agreed on all major issues, with the exception of immigration. Pearce gained notoriety with his tough stance on illegal immigration as the architect of SB 1070, while Lewis stressed a more cohesive immigration reform plan, arguing SB 1070 has resulted in a bad state image.
From the beginning the recall election was plagued with controversy, notably the candidacy of registered independent Olivia Cortes. After much speculation, pro-Pearce factions were found to have recruited Cortes to run in an effort to split the anti-Pearce vote, but amid a court case and scandal, Cortes dropped out of the race on October 6. To this day Cortes says she has no idea who paid for her petitions and is under investigation for possible campaign finance violations.
One other recall remains pending tonight. The vote to recall Michigan state Representative Paul Scott (R) has been extremely close all night. Unlike Pearce, Scott does not face a recall election, but rather a Yes or No vote to remove him from office.
- Russell Pearce recall, Arizona State Legislature (2011)
- Paul Scott recall, Michigan House of Representatives (2011)
- Laws governing recall in Arizona
- Recall of Wisconsin State Senators (2011)
- Huffington Post, “Arizona Topple Senate President Russell Pearce, SB 1070 Immigration Law Architect, in Historic Recall Vote,” November 8, 2011
- Phoenix Business Journal, “Russell Pearce loses recall bid; Stanton elected Phoenix Mayor,” November 8, 2011
- KPHO, "Russell Pearce ousted in historic recall election," November 8, 2011
- Tucson Citizen, "Pearce, Lewis mainly split on immigration enforcement," October 7, 2011
- AZ Central, "Olivia Cortes to be investigated for campaign-finance law violations," October 29, 2011
- BusinessWeek, “Arizona Immigration Law Author Pearce Loses in Recall Election,” November 8, 2011