Pearce recall now official

Posted: Updated:

MESA, Ariz. - A group that wants Arizona State Senate President Russell Pearce out of office obtained the necessary number of signatures to trigger a recall election, officials confirmed Friday.

Maricopa County and state officials said they had certified the necessary signatures to recall Pearce,  who represents legislative District 18 in Mesa. The election is expected to take place on November 8.

Amy Bjelland, elections director at the Secretary of State's Office, said it is the first successful state-level recall the office has had.

"At the legislative level, I don't know that we've ever seen it in this state. This is the first successful recall our office has ever seen," said Bjelland.

Organizers for Citizens for A Better Arizona collected 3,000 more signatures than the 7,756 that were required.

Pearce has five days to resign or will automatically be placed on the ballot. Bjelland said he has 10 days to submit a rebuttal statement that would appear next to his name on the ballot.

Pearce's office said he was out of town Friday and there was no answer at his home.

The Mesa republican has declined comment on the recall effort since it began months ago.

At a tea party event in May, Pearce told 3TV, "You take everything seriously but people know who these folks are, they've tried it before, they're simply open-border anarchists who have no respect for the law. We'll deal with it."

Constituents in Pearce's Mesa district were split on the recall.

"There's a whole bunch of issues that he's out in front and I think he's too far on one side and I think a lot of people feel the same way," said Bob Schulz.

"I think there's too many people here that still support him, the outside influences have caused this to happen," said Richard Crane.

Governor janet Brewer now has 15 days to issue and order calling for a special recall election.

Bjelland says candidates who wish to run against Pearce must collect 621 signatures, 2 percent of the number of votes that were cast in the last election.

The Secretary of State's Office will begin accepting signatures and candidate filings on August 10.

Randy Parraz, the co-chair of Citizens for a Better Arizona, said he was not sure who would step forward to challenge Pearce but said the candidate would likely need to be a moderate republican who is not afraid to challenge party leaders.