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Politics

Arizona Voters Recall Politician Behind SB 1070

Arizona state Senate President Russell Pearce introduces state Senator Steve Smith at a fundraiser for a private border fence in Casa Grande, Arizona on July 20, 2011.
Devin Browne
Arizona state Senate President Russell Pearce introduces state Senator Steve Smith at a fundraiser for a private border fence in Casa Grande, Arizona on July 20, 2011.
Russell Pearce Recalled
Russell Pearce Recalled

Arizona Senate President Russell Pearce – the driving force behind many immigration related laws, including the polarizing SB 1070 – was recalled by voters Tuesday.

Pearce, who many consider the most powerful politician in the state, lost to charter school administrator Jerry Lewis. He becomes the first state legislator recalled in Arizona history.

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Surrounded by family and supporters in his hometown of Mesa, Pearce acknowledged his defeat in the recall election.

“If being recalled is the price for keeping one’s promises, then so be it. I’ve always kept my promises,” Pearce said. “I’ve always put my loyalty to this Republic, the rule of law and the moral principals that people have died for in this great republic ahead of any personal interests.”

Pearce helped enact tough laws enforcing immigration regulations on a state level, including SB 1070, which spawned copy cat legislation across the nation. Some voters think it went too far.

His opponent, Jerry Lewis, had the advantage of serving in local leadership in the Mormon church, which many say played a role in a heavily Mormon district. Lewis ran on a pledge of civility in politics.

“We needed to have a more representative form of legislators,” Lewis said. “People that listened to the issues that were important to them and would do it in a civil tone and work toward their best interests.”

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Pearce will remain in office until election results are official, which should be next week.