In one of the most surprising and inspiring grassroots campaigns this year, the Citizens for a Better Arizona will make history next Tuesday, May 31st, when they present Secretary of State Ken Bennett with more than twice as many signatures needed to recall notorious state Senate President Russell Pearce (R-Mesa).
Defying all expectations, the once powerful Pearce will become the first Senate president to be recalled in American history, according to campaign supporters, if 7,756 valid signatures from Pearce's District 18 in Phoenix-area Mesa are verified over a rigorous 90-day period.
Take note: The other Arizona -- the real Arizona, for a rapidly growing statewide movement -- has re-emerged to reclaim its state from one of the nation's most controversial and embarrassing right-wing hardliners.
Appearing in Tucson yesterday, Phoenix-based campaign organizer Randy Parraz and a crowd of bipartisan supporters urged volunteers to turn out this holiday weekend for the final canvassing of signatures in the Mesa-area district. The symbolic number: 17,553 signatures -- one more than the total Pearce received in his low turnout victory in 2010.
Hundreds of supporters in Pearce's district and around the state have taken part in an extensive door-to-door campaign that many had doubts would ever succeed.
Randy Parraz and former Sen. Luis Gonzales at news conference, photo by Jeff Biggers
Stating Pearce's "indefensible" actions are out of step with the values and interests of Arizona voters, the bipartisan Citizens for a Better Arizona have listed four major reasons for their historic recall:
1. Voted to terminate health care for seniors, struggling families and people with a disability.
2. Opposes the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
3. Voted to require American citizens show a Government ID for emergency care.
4. Opposes access to public education for all Arizona children.
Most recently, Pearce has been at the center of a scandal over improper Fiesta Bowl gifts and favors. As the architect of the controversial SB 1070 immigration law, Pearce has attracted national attention for his calls for punitive crackdowns on the state's immigrant communities. Last fall he accused President Obama of "waging jihad" on America. Earlier this week, FOX News Phoenix explored Pearce's widely denounced connections to neo-Nazi hate groups:
At the press conference, retired Tucson businessman Ed Booth criticized Pearce's dominant role in the state as an "extreme negative distraction" that has derailed legislative efforts for economic development and education. As Pearce and the state legislature passed draconian cuts in education this spring, Booth reminded participants, former Intel CEO Craig Barrett warned the state that major businesses were overlooking Arizona due to its poor education commitment.
Declaring that Pearce's national role on immigration and other issues transcended his district in Mesa and Arizona state politics, Parraz told participants in Tucson to prepare for a national campaign.
"Pearce and his machine are going to do anything they can to stall and stop this recall," Parraz said.
He clarified recent reports that an error in the recall timetable by the Elections Directors might delay any subsequent election until next spring. Parraz explained the 90-day process of signature verification by the Secretary of State's office, the Maricopa County Recorder's Office, and the governor's final 15-day period to call for new elections. Citizens for a Better Arizona has hired the Perkins Cole law firm to monitor the verification process.
"We can't sit idly by," warned former state senator Luis Gonzales, calling on all Arizonans to save the state's reputation, and revamp its commitment to education and the economy.