Pearce loses race to return to Ariz. LegislaturePosted: Updated:
PHOENIX (AP) -- AA former Arizona legislator known nationally for championing recent laws against illegal immigration lost as he attempted a political comeback in Tuesday's primary election.
Former state Senate President Russell Pearce lost to businessman Bob Worsley in their race for the Republican Senate nomination in District 25 in Mesa.
Worsley had a 2,600-vote margin with approximatey 19,600 votes counted, including thousands of early ballots and results from 14 of 37 precincts.
A year after winning passage of the law known as SB1070, Pearce lost a 2011 recall election largely focused on the illegal immigration issue.
Worsley founded the SkyMall in-flight shopping catalog and is now involved in energy and mining businesses. He was endorsed by several major business groups and by all members of the Mesa City Council.
Worsley outspent Pearce by nearly 2-1, according to campaign finance reports.
Illegal immigration was a major focus of the 2011 recall race that Pearce lost to a fellow Republican now in a different district, but the issue has faded somewhat as a top-tier concern as even Pearce emphasized education and economic concerns in the primary race.
Worsley and his supporters argued that Mesa deserved better representation, with more emphasis on economic concerns and less focus on controversial issues such as illegal immigration.
Pearce was the chief sponsor of the Arizona immigration enforcement law known as SB1070. The Supreme Court in June upheld its controversial provision requiring police to question people about their immigration status under certain circumstances.
Pearce said during the primary campaign that he hadn't done anything wrong and that his critics were ignoring his work on other concerns.
All 90 legislative seats are up this year, but only some figure in contested contests in Tuesday's primary.