Arizona anti-immigration leader Russell Pearce loses recall election

The times they are a changin’. It seems like only yesterday, Arizona Senate President Russell Pearce was considered the most powerful politician in Arizona and a man whose counsel was sought by legislators in Colorado and around the country.

DeeDee Garcia Blase, immediate past president of Somos Republicans and current president of the national Tequila Party, with victorious candidate Jerry Lewis in Arizona.

The author of Arizona’s anti-immigration law, SB-1070, Pearce was considered the father of state-level immigration reform. Tuesday, he became the first Arizona legislator ever to lose a recall election, the first state senate president in the country to ever face such a fate. He conceded late last night on his way to a 53-45 defeat to fellow conservative Republican Jerry Lewis.

“This is huge,” said DeeDee Garcia Blase, national president of the Tequila Party and immediate past president of Somos Republicans. She likened the successful recall to the civil rights movement of the 60s and said it may mark a turning point in the American debate over immigration. “This is like a miracle,” she said.

She said Arizona’s passage of SB-1070 was a watershed event in that it awakened Latino voters in America to the fact that they had to get involved. “I’m an American citizen. I’m a veteran, but with this law people could ask for my papers based on how I look. Latinos came out to vote after 1070 passed.”

She said is still working with Somos Republicans, but is shifting her efforts to the non-partisan Tequila Party because the Republican Party does not seem open to Latino concerns. “The GOP better wake up, but I am not doing their dirty work anymore,” she said.

Victor Jerry Lewis, a conservative Republican and a Mormon, who agreed with Pearce on almost every issue except immigration, where he said all parties needed to work together to find solutions without demonizing large groups of people.

Garcia Blase was the first person to initiate the recall of Sen. Russell Pearce but later joined with other groups working toward the same end. She said enlisting the Mormon community was huge and that as Mormons in Mesa became more familiar with The Utah Compact and efforts by Mormons in Utah to craft humane immigration policies, the tide began to turn.

“Last night’s win consisted of the LDS community, conservatives, libertarians, independents and Democrats uniting and ousting one of the most anti-immigrant, anti-Latino politicians in American history,” Garcia Blase said.

“The defeat of Russell Pearce means the tide is turning back toward the United States maintaining its reputation as that Shining City on a Hill. The nation is now set to reverse the evil deeds of anti-immigrant crusaders John Tanton, Kris Kobach, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, NumbersUSA, the Federation for American Immigration Reform, or FAIR, and so forth,” she said.

Pearce’s ties to the private prison industry, which worked with him to craft a law that would benefit private prisons by providing a steady stream of new inmates, has been widely documented.

“The momentum and the arc of justice will bend on the side of immigration in a way that will benefit the United States American economy and immigrants will preserve our nation and take care of our elderly. Legal immigration reform will bring out those who live in the shadows of society.

“Goodness prevailed last night when Republican Candidate Jerry Lewis beat Pearce,” she said.

Scot Kersgaard has been managing editor of a political newspaper, editor and co-owner of a ski town newspaper, executive editor of eight high-tech magazines (where he worked with current Apple CEO Tim Cook), deputy press secretary to a U.S. Senator, and an outdoors columnist at the Rocky Mountain News. He has an English degree from the University of Washington. He was awarded a fellowship to study internet journalism at the University of Maryland's Knight Center for Specialized Journalism. He was student body president in college. He spends his free time hiking and skiing.