Architect of Arizona’s Anti-Immigration Law May Lose His Seat

Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce (R).<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/gageskidmore/5486318407/sizes/m/in/photostream/">Gage Skidmore</a>/Flickr

Facts matter: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter. Support our nonprofit reporting. Subscribe to our print magazine.


Republican Arizona state Sen. Russell Pearce, the architect of the state’s draconian anti-immigrantion law, may lose his seat in tomorrow’s recall election. According to a poll by a local ABC affiliate, Pearce is running neck-and-neck with his Republican challenger Jerry Lewis:

Lewis holds a 46-43 percent lead over Pearce in the historic recall contest, but the edge is within the poll’s margin of error.

“Statistically here, what we’ve got is a dead heat,” said Jeremy Moreland, a Valley pollster who conducted the survey. “Both Lewis and Pearce are within the margin of error of one another.”

Pearce has a considerable financial advantage. According to the ABC affiliate, Pearce “raised an eye-popping $230,000—including donations from more than 40 states—compared to Lewis’ $69,000.” Yet despite that advantage, and the fact that his campaign managed to get a sham candidate, Olivia Cortes, on the ballot, Pearce may still lose.

Pearce’s opponents challenged Cortes’ candidacy in court and Maricopa County Judge Edward Burke wrote in his ruling that that Cortes was recruited by Pearce allies “to siphon Hispanic votes from Lewis to advance Pearce’s recall-election bid.” Nevertheless, Burke ruled that Cortes could stay on the ballot, because “he could find no wrongdoing by Cortes herself.” According to the ABC-15 poll, Cortes is still polling at about 2.5 percent, which in an election this close could mean the difference between Pearce keeping or losing his seat. In one last desperate attempt to swing the election in Pearce’s favor, his allies are behind a misleading robocall in an effort to manipulate voters into casting a ballot for Cortes. 

Pearce, who drafted the 2010 law after meeting with officials from the American Legislative Exchange Council and Corrections Corporation of America, the private prison company, became state Senate president following Republican gains in the 2010 elections. But despite his rise in political stature, his anti-immigrant agenda met with more resistance than expected, and he was recently implicated by an investigation that showed him and other Arizona lawmakers illegally accepting Fiesta Bowl tickets. 

While Pearce’s odd ability to “accidentally” associate with white supremacists didn’t stop him from rising to state senate president in Arizona, his Republican opponent has taken a moderate stance on immigration, saying during their debate a few weeks ago that “we need to make sure we address this issue in a humane way.” So it’s not just that Pearce might lose. It’s that the state’s most anti-immigrant politician might be defeated by the kind of Republican moderate on immigration that, back in 2010, seemed almost extinct.

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

payment methods

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate