Phoenix – State Senate leader Russell Pearce, the author of the anti-immigrant SB1070 law, will become the first legislator in Arizona history whose political destiny will be decided by the voters in a recall election.
Gov. Jan Brewer announced on Tuesday that the special election will be held on Nov. 8 after the Secretary of State certified that enough signatures had been collected to begin the process of unseating Pearce.
The lawmaker reacted to the news by issuing a press release in which he said that his attorneys are reviewing the validation process for at least 7,756 signatures from among the more than 18,000 presented by the group Citizens for a Better Arizona.
On July 8, the Maricopa County elections office certified 10,365 signatures of voters registered within Pearce's district, the Phoenix suburb of Mesa.
Pearce, a Republican, has until next Monday to dispute the verification of the signatures.
The main sponsor of state law SB 1070, the first in the United States to criminalize the presence of undocumented immigrants, made it clear that he is not intending to step down.
"It's never happened in the history of Arizona and I think also in that of the United States for the leader of the state Senate to face a dismissal process," Randy Parraz, cofounder of Citizens for a Better Arizona, told Efe.
Pearce has drafted several bills targeting undocumented immigrants, including one to deny them driver's licenses or any other state-issued identification documents and another mandating punishment - fines and even the suspension of business licenses - for employers who knowingly hire undocumented immigrants.
But on the national level, Pearce is better known for being "the father" of SB 1070, which revived the immigration debate all over the country.
Parraz said that the Republican's stance on the immigration issue is not the only reason why they are seeking to remove him and they are pursuing their campaign because they also feel that he has done nothing to solve the problems confronting his district and the state, including unemployment and budget cuts that hurt education.
The activist said that they are hoping that in the coming days, the candidate who will challenge Pearce in the special election will be announced, but he admitted that the contest will not be easy.
"We have to find a Republican who is not as extreme as Pearce. This person will confront the ... leader of the Senate, whom we already know is a very powerful person," he emphasized.
Parraz commented that now the group will focus its efforts on recruiting volunteers to explain to District 18 voters the importance of their participation in the special election in November.
In his opinion, the Hispanic vote will be key in the special election, given that 15 percent of the district's voters are Latino.