If you are Arizona State Senate President Russell Pearce, one of the best known small-time politicians in the country, and you’re facing a recall election that centers around your sponsorship of SB 1070, the granddaddy of single-state immigration bills, what do you do?
Well, it was noted in court last week that what Pearce–or his friends–did was recruit a pro-immigration Mexican-American immigrant to run against him in order to split the anti-Pearce vote two ways. The judge didn’t throw her off the ballot, but when Pearce’s own relatives received subpoenas to testify as to whether they themselves had collected signatures on Cortes’s behalf, she withdrew from the race voluntarily.
Candidate Olivia Cortes was recruited by a Pearce pal, one of the leaders of the area Tea Party. That was one thing, but when the man, Greg Western, actually signed on to manage her campaign, people noticed and the house of cards came tumbling down.
Critics of Mr. Pearce’s hard-line approach to illegal immigration collected enough signatures to force him into a recall election in November. But allies of Mr. Pearce, who is one of the state’s most powerful politicians, did not take that humiliation lightly. They recruited Ms. Cortes in what was an effort to split the anti-Pearce vote, particularly among Latinos, a judge later found.
Pearce denied any knowledge of the scheme:
According to the Times: He denied being behind Ms. Cortes’s candidacy and said he had spoken to his nieces about their involvement. “I wouldn’t have done it,” he said. “I wish they hadn’t done it.”
Meanwhile, Colorado’s own Tom Tancredo is busy soliciting funds to help Pearce keep his job.