Posted on November 17, 2011

It Took a Recall to Defeat Me

Russell Pearce, Politico, November 15, 2011

I’d be lying if I said I was not extremely disappointed by being voted out in a recall election. I’m sad to go under these circumstances.

The establishment is attempting to frame my defeat as proof that voters oppose immigration control. Many are insinuating my defeat as a blow SB1070.

But the truth is–as some political observers acknowledge–I probably wouldn’t have lost the race in a normal election. In my previous race, I won with two-thirds of the vote. But given that this was a recall election, various other factors came into play.

First, there was no primary–so my political enemies saw an excellent opportunity to pose a challenge. My Republican opponent was Jerry Lewis, who stated he was opposed to SB1070, supports the DREAM Act and believes illegal aliens do the jobs that Americans won’t.

In a normal election, Lewis would have had no chance in the primary. And with a large GOP registration edge in my district, I would likely have won easily against the Democrat.

The Democrats, however, did not put up a candidate. Instead, the Democratic Party, and left-wing groups like the Service Employees International Union and, all supported Lewis.


The main point, however, is that this had nothing to do with my positions on illegal immigration. In fact my opponent barely discussed the issue.

Combine all these factors with the low turnout in a special election, and it is hard to see my defeat as a referendum on SB 1070.


Back in 2004 I wrote Prop 200, The Protect Arizona Now Act on the ballot, which restricted public benefits to illegal immigrants and protected against voting fraud. Despite being outspent 3-1, and with virtually every politician in the state opposing the measure, it passed overwhelmingly.

In 2006, I placed on the ballot Proposition 100, a constitutional amendment denying bail to any illegal immigrant charged with a serious felony. It passed by 78 percent. I also pressed for Proposition 103, which made English the Official Language of Arizona. It passed by 73 percent.

In 2007, I introduced the Legal Arizona Workers Act, requiring all state employers to use E-Verify, to ensure they don’t hire illegal immigrants. If any “knowingly” hire illegal immigrants, they are to lose their license to do business in Arizona. After building enormous grass-roots support, the bill passed and then-Gov. Janet Napolitano signed it.


Since SB1070 passed, according to the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association, they have experienced a 30-year low in crime–without one civil rights, racial profiling or biased policing complaint. More important, polls still show that Arizona voters support the law by a 2-1 margin.

This issue has now become bigger than me–and bigger than Arizona.

We have inspired other states to take action. More than 34 states are now proposing legislation modeled on SB1070. Alabama, South Carolina, Utah and Georgia have already passed bills.

Before I introduced SB 1070, Arizona political luminaries like Sen. John McCain and Rep. Jeff Flake were leading sponsors of amnesty for illegal immigrants. But since we passed it, most of our GOP congressman and senators at least give lip service to supporting patriotic immigration enforcement.

I have not decided whether or not I will run again for the State Senate–or another office. I promise you though, that I will not retreat from this fight.