Effort to recall Sen. Russell Pearce under way

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By Alicia Barron By Alicia Barron

MESA, Ariz. - Senate President Russell Pearce is one of the most powerful politicians in the state, but now a group of his constituents wants him out.

"Citizens for a Better Arizona" has launched an effort to recall the Mesa Republican. The group says they've gotten more than two-thirds of the 7,756 signatures required to force a recall.

Chairman Chad Snow said he is "absolutely positive" the group will get the necessary number of verified signatures from legislative district 18 by the May 31 deadline.

"This is a historic effort, no sitting senate president has ever been recalled in the history of the United States," said Snow, who is a Republican from Peoria.

Democrat Randy Parraz, a 2010 contender for U.S. Senate, is the group's co-chair.

Some political analysts are skeptical of the effort. They say even if a recall is forced, Pearce, who is popular on the far right, could be tough to beat in a special recall election.

"There are a lot of politicians who have been accused of a lot more wrongdoing than anything anyone can dream of about Russell Pearce who have survived and gone on to have fruitful political careers," said Barry Dill, a partner at First Strategic.

Pearce has faced numerous challenges in recent weeks.

Last month a package of immigration bills he crafted failed to pass the Senate. He has been accused of taking free trips on the Fiesta Bowl's dime. His son recently spent time in jail, and yesterday the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against him on Senate Bill 1070, his signature anti-illegal immigration bill.

"He's a gift that keeps on giving for our recall effort," said Snow.

Once the signatures are verified by the Secretary of State's office, a special election can be scheduled.

A Senate spokesperson said Pearce would not comment on the recall effort.