State Senate Republicans confirm to New Times that GOPers have selected a replacement for ousted Senate President Russell Pearce following his historic loss in Tuesday night's recall election. The new Senate President: Senator Steve Pierce, a Prescott Republican.
Pierce is one of three possible replacements for Pearce Senate Republicans considered. The others were Majority Leader Andy Biggs -- a staunch backer of Pearce -- and Senator Steve Yarbrough.
Pierce was elected by a vote of 11-10.
As far as any possible changes under a Pierce presidency go, it seems like a case of meet the new boss, same as the old boss.
Pierce didn't immediately return our call this afternoon, but tells the Arizona Republic not to expect too many changes under his leadership.
"We're going to continue the good things that Russell [Pearce] started," Pierce tells the paper. "He did a wonderful job. He did not deserve what happened to him."
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Pierce and Pearce are both staunch fiscal and social conservatives. However, Pierce strayed from the then-Senate president in March when he voted against five Pearce-backed immigration bills, two of which were designed to force a U.S. Supreme Court decision on whether children of illegal immigrants should automatically be awarded U.S. citizenship.
Pierce's voting no on the bills doesn't necessarily mean he's got a soft spot for illegal immigrants -- at the time, business leaders across the state were urging legislators to vote against the measures to avoid hurting the ailing economy.
Pierce has been a member of the Legislature since 2008. He became majority whip in 2009 after former Senator Pam Gorman stormed off the Senate floor in a huff following failed budget talks. Gorman then resigned from her position as whip before mounting a failed Congressional campaign.
This is the second switcheroo in leadership for the Republican caucus this year. Back in March, Biggs replaced embattled Senator Scott Bundgaard as majority leader following Bundgaard's freeway fracas with ex-gal-pal Aubry Ballard. More on that here.