Pearce loses recall election

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MESA, Ariz. -- Arizona Senate President Russell Pearce has conceded defeat in a historic recall election.

Republican challenger Jerry Lewis appeared to be out in front in early returns, a lead that has continued to grow.  Shortly after 9 p.m. Pearce held a press conference with Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpio at his side. "Numbers aren't going my way and I am OK with that" Pearce said to a crowd of supporters and local media.

Only a few months ago, political insiders said Pearce, the architect of anti-illegal immigrant law SB 1070, was untouchable. But then fellow legislators rejected his package of additional immigration legislation this year, and reports revealed he'd accepted free trips from the Fiesta Bowl.

Lewis, a political newcomer who is also a Republican and Mormon, announced his run late this summer.

A third candidate, Olivia Cortes, dropped out of the race last month after a court hearing revealed her candidacy was bolstered entirely by Pearce supporters in an attempt to siphon votes away from Lewis.