A bipartisan group in Arizona will try to oust controversial Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio in a recall election.
"We believe he has not done justice. Sheriff Arpaio has not taken responsibility for his acts, he has done a lot of harm to the Hispanic community, the county has paid millions of dollars in lawsuits filed against him," Randy Parraz, a member of Respect Arizona that is pushing the recall effort, told Efe.
Arpaio, 80, was first elected in 1992 and since then has been reelected six times.
Nonetheless, his popularity has tumbled among voters in the county, which includes Phoenix, and in last November's elections had a very close win over Democrat Paul Penzone with 51 percent of the vote, his lowest-ever margin of victory.
Respect Arizona must now collect 335,317 signatures of registered voters in Maricopa county before May 30. If they succeed, the recall election could come in November.
"We know it won't be an easy process, no recall effort is easy, but it's not impossible either," Parraz said.
In 2011, Citizens for a Better Arizona gathered enough signatures to begin a recall effort against then-speaker of the state Senate, the Republican Russell Pearce, who had been one of the state's most influential politicians.
Pearce, who as sponsor of the SB 1070 immigration law became the image of anti-immigrant sentiment in Arizona, lost his Senate seat in the recall.
Parraz acknowledges that money will be a fundamental factor in the current fight, since the Republican sheriff has powerful financial support both inside and outside of Arizona, as was obvious in the last campaign when he spent close to $8 million.
Arpaio, who is facing a federal lawsuit by the Department of Justice for racial profiling practices against Hispanics, was known for ordering immigration raids on workplaces in greater Phoenix. EFE