As a tease to an event tonight, Respect Arizona, the group seeking to recall Sheriff Joe Arpaio from office, has announced that it has fewer than 200,000 valid signatures left to score, with less than two months before its May 30 deadline.
"When we started this effort on January 30, 2013, we needed 335,317 valid signatures," Respect Arizona chairman William Fisher said in a press release. "Today, because of individuals who have donated their time and money, we have brought that number down to less than 200,000."
The release goes on to state that "the exact number of signatures gathered to date will be released later tonight when hundreds of supporters gather to launch the next phase of the recall Arpaio campaign."
About a month ago, Respect Arizona held a press conference to announce that it had garnered 120,000 valid signatures from qualified electors. The campaign seemed to be on a roll at the time and clearly was headed toward collecting the needed signatures with the help of paid petition circulators.
Then on March 18, Respect Arizona announced that it was suspending its paid petition drive and going all-volunteer, due to money woes. I later guestimated that the effort might have as many as 157,000 valid signatures at the end of the paid drive.
So the announcement that the campaign has fewer than 200,000 valid sigs left to gather is not surprising. I just hope that it's a lot fewer than 200,000.
With just 56 days left, the crusade to end Arpaio's corrupt rule will need to gather thousands of valid signatures a day, perhaps about 3,500 a day, depending on the actual number of remaining sigs.
And they'll need a cushion to make up the slack created by any signatures that are thrown out. So add on 100,000, maybe 200,000.
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Daunting, but not impossible. Still, if it's to be done, every person who despises Arpaio and wants him in the rear-view mirror needs to show up tonight at Painter's Hall, 210 North 24th Street in Phoenix, when the doors open at 5:30 p.m.
Elected officials expected to be on hand include Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox, ex-Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon, state Senator Steve Gallardo, Arizona House Minority Leader Chad Campbell, and state Representative Ruben Gallego.
As I've said before, what choice do we have? It's either work for Arpaio's downfall or accept his reign of incompetence and malfeasance. The latter is simply not an option.