Arizona State Senate President Russell Pearce successfully recalled from office

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November 8, 2011

By: Greg Janetka

Russell Pearce is the first Arizona state legislator to be recalled

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.[1] 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.[2]

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."[3]

Recall of Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce, 2011
Candidate Vote % Votes
Russell Pearce Incumbent 43.5% 10,121
Green check mark transparent.pngJerry Lewis 55.1% 12,812
Olivia Cortes (withdrawn) 1.2% 277
Write-In Candidate 0.2% 57
Total Votes 23,267

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.[4]

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.[5]

Lewis will be sworn in to the District 18 seat once the results are certified by the Secretary of State, which is expected to occur by November 21.[6]

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.

Update: Rep. Paul Scott conceded defeat at 11:35 p.m. Eastern time

See also


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