Soon-to-be-former Arizona Senate President Russell Pearce got the boot from office last night, becoming the only sitting state Senate president to lose in a recall election in the history of the United States.
Pearce's loss is viewed by many as a warning shot to immigration hard-liners, and far-right-wingers, who have followed Pearce's path away from the mainstream.
And keep in mind, AZ politicos, as Matthew Roberts, spokesman for the Arizona Secretary of State's Office confirms to New Times, anyone can be recalled.
Pearce's ties to the recent Fiesta Bowl scandal, as well as his fierce anti-immigrant policies (the guy's the author of Arizona's controversial immigration law, SB 1070), apparently turned off the majority of LD 18 voters -- many of whom voted for him in last year's election.
As Bruce Merrill, a veteran political scientist, pollster and professor emeritus at Arizona State University told the Arizona Republic yesterday, "If Lewis holds on and wins this thing...it sends a message not only to people in Arizona but outside Arizona that everybody is not a very strident right-wing anti-illegal immigration person,"
Those who oppose Pearce are even more optimistic.
"This victory shows that the citizens of Arizona want fair immigration reform and will not stand for any law that racially profiles any segment of the community," Petra Falcon, executive director of Promise Arizona in Action, an organization instrumental in the Pearce recall, says. "It is now time for our community to move forward together, inclusively."
A few of Pearce's GOP Senate colleagues apparently get the hint, and (quietly) have been whispering that the Senate president's recall should serve as a message to other Republican lawmakers that they need to take a more moderate approach to immigration reform -- unless they want to go the route of their now-ousted leader.
DeeDee Blase, president of the National Tequila Party -- a non-partisan group critical of Pearce -- is thrilled with the results of last night's election.
"Racista Russell Pearce was defeated last night! It was destined to happen, and we hope this marks a new direction for the entire immigrant community as we seek for the arc of justice to bend to their favor," Blase, who was once a vocal Hispanic Republican leader, says.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Phoenix New Times's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Phoenix's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
Not everyone is getting the message from Pearce's ouster, though. Enter Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
"I'm not happy with [the election results]," Arpaio tells New Times. "I think it's bad for the country...no matter if ya hate Russell, or ya love Russell, he deserves to be continuing on and not be recalled because he's earned [his seat], he worked hard. He earned what he accomplished."
Again, as Roberts explains, anyone can get recalled in Arizona -- even a sheriff.