Respect Arizona, the group attempting to recall Sheriff Joe Arpaio from office, may yet prove the naysayers wrong.
At a press conference Monday in downtown Phoenix, about 20 members of the group gathered to announce that, so far, they have collected 200,359 valid signatures to recall Sheriff Joe.
See also: -Joe Arpaio Recall Boasts 169,283 Valid Signatures, 166,034 More Needed by May 30 -Joe Arpaio Recall Has "Less Than 200,000" Signatures to Gather, with 56 Days Left -Joe Arpaio Recall: A Chance to Prove the Pundits Wrong -Joe Arpaio's Chad Willems Talks to the Shadow Army about the "Blocking Campaign" and the End of GOP Rule in Maricopa County
That total is up from Respect Arizona's last announcement on April 4, when RA's campaign manager, Lilia Alvarez, informed supporters that RA had 169,283 verified signatures from qualified county electors, more than half of the 335,317 signatures needed to force a recall election.
Respect Arizona's deadline to turn in its petitions to Maricopa County Elections is May 30, leaving 38 days to garner the 134,958 valid signatures, or around 3,551 signatures per day, needed to meet its goal.
That's not including a necessary cushion of additional signatures to cover those that inevitably will be tossed by elections officials for one reason or another.
"Absolutely, we feel the pressure," Alvarez told reporters at the press conference. "That's why we're here today, to show that this is the first time that an effort like this has ever reached the height, the legitimacy of our effort."
She declined to discuss the group's finances, other than to say the campaign has so far cost a minimum of $300,000, and that RA has received contributions from more than 1,000 persons.
Money has been a problem for the group, which decided to forgo the use of paid petition circulators on March 18, switching to a volunteer army of signature-gatherers.
By my estimation, the group's pick up rate has been around 1,726 signatures a day on average since April 4.
As impressive as that number is, it will need to double in the remaining 38 days for RA to force a recall.
Alvarez noted the extensive blocking campaign being implemented by the pro-Joe crowd in order to disrupt signature-gathering: everything from the lawsuit brought by birther wingnut Larry Klayman to threatening mail and the harassment of petition circulators at public spaces like libraries and supermarkets.
"It was full force about three weeks ago," Alvarez said of the physical blocking campaign. "Due to that, we began our mail-in petition campaign, so people can request petitions on our website and we mail them to their homes."
Randy Parraz, president of Citizens for a Better Arizona, denounced the blocking campaign, which he said extended to the Arizona Legislature, where a bill meant to change the recall process retroactively recently was defeated in the state Senate.
Parraz also discussed an emailed message from former state Senate President Russell Pearce, who was successfully recalled by CBA in 2011.
It calls on supporters of himself and Arpaio to berate recalcitrant Republican legislators into voting yes onHouse Bill 2282, if the proposal is brought back this session. The bill would create a "recall primary," undermining the intent of the Arizona Constitution's recall provision.
"We find it kind of sickening what's happening with Russell Pearce," said Parraz. "It's another attempt to continue to pollute the political environment, to poison it more.
"Wasn't it Russell Pearce who said after he was recalled, 'Oh, I'll be back in a primary, that's a level playing field'? And what happened to Russell Pearce less than a year later? He went into a primary with Republicans and lost by double digits."
Last week, state Senator Steve Yarbrough offered an amendment that would allow a recalled official to advance to a "recall general election," even if that official loses in the recall primary.
The amendment passed, but the confusion over it may have led to the bill's 18-10 defeat in the Senate.
On Monday, state Senator Rick Murphy moved to reconsider the bill, and the motion carried. According to Democratic state Senator Steve Gallardo, who has fought gallantly in the trenches to defeat the measure, the bill could be brought back anytime from now until sine die for a vote.
Gallardo says that's unlikely to occur unless the Tea Party crazies get the 16 votes needed to pass the legislation.
Respect Arizona has promised a legal challenge if the bill passes and is signed by the governor.
Alvarez and other speakers attested to the fact that some people are afraid to sign the petition or give money to Respect Arizona for fear of retaliation from Arpaio.
Given such disadvantages, does Alvarez think her group can pull it off?
"It depends," she said. "It's a matter of how hungry people are. I've been told, `People are going to be pissed off if you don't get this done, they've given money.'
"Well, I'm going to be pissed off, too. I want this done so much. But it takes truly an army of people to get it done."
An e-mail provided by Respect Arizona, which the group says was sent "by the Surprise TEA Party on behalf of recalled Senate President Russell Pearce."
Dear Friends and Fellow Patriots:
I'm writing you with an urgent request.
As you may know, a bill to reform and fix the recall process (HB2282) failed in the Arizona State Senate yesterday. Unfortunately, some Republican members of the Senate sided with the Democrats and voted against the measure which calls for a primary election in the case of a recall as required in every other election and required under the Arizona Constitution, but needs to be placed into statue by the legislature for recall elections. A vote against this common sense fix to the obvious abused process of recall elections by Randy Parraz, Chad Snow and other extremist is critical. A vote against HB2282 is support for Randy Parraz and the extreme left wing that is using the recall process to over turn legitimate elections and to harass, threaten and abuse those they disagree with. In my humble opinion a direct civil rights violation to use the election process in this manner. If one has committed crimes of moral turpitude or there is cause for removal; impeachment, removal by the ethics committee as remedy is already available. This is nothing more than the minority overturning the will of the majority after a legitimate election. This provision in HB2282 is critical in properly reforming the recall process and to protect our electoral system from abuse.
If one disagrees with one politically we have elections.
This bill is not about me or Sheriff Joe; it is about the immoral and unethical abuse of our election process and a disregard for election results the left is very unhappy about. For Republicans to join hands with the likes of Randy Parraz, the extreme left and the open border crowd is more than disappointing. We know we have huge election fraud going on all over this nation, investigations, indictments, hundreds of thousands of registrations that appear to be fraudulent and the ACLU, SPLC, MALDEF and Obama Administration continues to sue and go after anyone who wants to protect the integrity of our elections and they fight any effort to require ID or show eligibility to vote (Prop. 200 before the Supreme Court right now for review that requires proof of citizenship to register to vote passed by an overwhelming majority of voters). If they can't get you out in a legitimate election, then they will use voter fraud, recall or any means possible. It is nothing less that voter fraud disguised as an election. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The bill is going to be reconsidered this coming Monday, April 22nd. Maybe those who support the hijacking of our elections by the left by using the recall process to unelect those that keep their promises of upholding the law or keeping their Oath's of Office and returned to office by the People maybe those who refuse to fix the abuse should be recalled themselves. Maybe they should allow the opposite Party and the those that have always opposed their position be allowed to vote them out via recall as it is designed to allow a Jungle Primary if you will that the voters just tossed by a 3 to 1 margin last November in Proposition 121. We have different Parties because we have different values.
Randy Parraz continues to brag about registering thousands of folks that don't have to show proof of citizenship and by using what are called "garbage" ballots (that are ballots going to folks with dementia, nursing homes and the such that probably won't vote or don't understand) and perhaps other schemes.
I'm asking you to take just five minutes of your time to call or the Senators below and ask them to vote YES on bill #2282. This is not about one person. This is about protecting the integrity of our system as a whole. We can no longer tolerate a system where fringe elements begin recalling our elected officials after they are duly elected to office by the voters.
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Please call and email the Senators below today and ask them to support Bill 2282.
Former President of the Arizona State Senate, Russell Pearce