Ari­zona im­mi­gra­tion hard guy pon­ders an­other run for of­fice

Ex-se­na­tor was ousted in fall re­call

The Washington Times Daily - - Nation - BY VA­LERIE RICHARD­SON

Just months af­ter fall­ing vic­tim to a re­call ef­fort, the au­thor of Ari­zona’s im­mi­gra­tion crack­down is weigh­ing whether to jump back into an­other leg­isla­tive race.

A leader of the move­ment against il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion, Rus­sell Pearce is slated to an­nounce his plans Mon­day at a Red Moun­tain Tea Party meet­ing in Mesa. Other elected of­fi­cials, in­clud­ing Mari­copa County Sher­iff Joe Ar­paio, are sched­uled to at­tend, ac­cord­ing to an email mes­sage sent to Pearce sup­port­ers.

Ari­zona po­lit­i­cal an­a­lyst Michael O’neil said he ex­pects Mr. Pearce to throw his hat back in the ring, even af­ter los­ing a highly pub­li­cized re­call ef­fort to a fel­low Re­pub­li­can in Novem­ber.

“He’s giv­ing ev­ery in­di­ca­tion he will run,” Mr. O’neil said. “He’s a man on a mis­sion. He’s ab­so­lutely driven by this is­sue, and I think he wants to show peo­ple, ‘You can’t beat me, I’m com­ing back.’ ”

The spon­sor of Se­nate Bill 1070, Ari­zona’s land­mark anti-il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion bill, Mr. Pearce was state Se­nate pres­i­dent when he was ousted in the first re­call elec­tion in state his­tory. The ef­fort was spon­sored by Cit­i­zens for a Bet­ter Ari­zona, which op­poses S.B. 1070 and cam­paigned in fa­vor of Mr. Pearce’s op­po­nent.

Shortly af­ter the re­call, Mr. Pearce was tapped to head Ban Amnesty Now and elected first vice chair­man of the Ari­zona Re­pub­li­can Party. He also hosts a weekly talk-ra­dio show on KFNX-AM in Phoenix.

If he de­cides to run, Mr. Pearce would likely touch off an­other bat­tle royale be­tween con­ser­va­tive and mod­er­ate Repub­li­cans in the GOP pri­mary, with im­mi­gra­tion play­ing a key role in the de­bate.

“There’s a huge rift right now in the Ari­zona Re­pub­li­can Party be­tween tea party Repub­li­cans and reg­u­lar Repub­li­cans,” said Randy Par­raz, head of Cit­i­zens for a Bet­ter Ari­zona. “The ques­tion is, do the peo­ple in Leg­isla­tive Dis­trict 25 feel like he’s the type of per­son they want to rep­re­sent them?”

The dis­trict isn’t the same one Mr. Pearce rep­re­sented for years be­fore his re­call. The state’s newly re­drawn lines place him in the same dis­trict as Re­pub­li­can state Sen. Rich Cran­dall, not state Sen. Jerry Lewis, who de­feated Mr. Pearce in the re­call elec­tion.

Still, the dis­trict en­com­passes most of Mesa and re­mains one of the most con­ser­va­tive in the state. Mr. Pearce would likely fare bet­ter in a Re­pub­li­can pri­mary, in which only Repub­li­cans and in­de­pen­dents may vote, than in a re­call elec­tion, in which Democrats may also cast bal­lots.

“The new dis­trict is a more con­ser­va­tive, more Re­pub­li­can dis­trict than his old one. There are far fewer His­pan­ics,” Mr. O’neil said. “Ex­cept for hav­ing an in­cum­bent there, it’s a bet­ter dis­trict for him.”

Mr. Cran­dall has not yet said whether he will seek re-elec­tion, but he is viewed as more mod­er­ate than Mr. Pearce. In the 2011 leg­isla­tive ses­sion, Mr. Cran­dall helped de­feat a pack­age of Pearce-spon­sored im­mi­gra­tion bills aimed at build­ing on the suc­cess of S.B. 1070.

The law, which re­quires po­lice to check the im­mi­gra­tion sta­tus of sus­pected un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants, is on hold pend­ing a Supreme Court chal­lenge. Other states have since adopted sim­i­lar laws.

Mr. Pearce is also sched­uled to reach the na­tional stage in April by tes­ti­fy­ing on S.B. 1070 be­fore the Se­nate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee’s sub­com­mit­tee on im­mi­gra­tion, refugees and bor­der se­cu­rity. The hear­ing, called by Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Demo­crat, is slated for April 24, the day be­fore the Supreme Court con­sid­ers the Ari­zona law.

The hear­ing ap­pears less than friendly — Mr. Schumer is a well­known critic of the law, and has crit­i­cized Ari­zona Gov. Jan Brewer for re­fus­ing to ap­pear be­fore the com­mit­tee — lead­ing to ques­tions as to why Mr. Pearce would agree to tes­tify.

Ari­zona Repub­lic colum­nist Robert Robb said Mr. Pearce is “mak­ing a mis­take” by agree­ing to par­tic­i­pate in the hear­ing.

“Schumer has no in­ter­est in the mer­its of SB 1070 or its con­sti­tu­tion­al­ity,” said Mr. Robb in a Thurs­day post. “He wants a show to in­flu­ence the court and shape cov­er­age of the real event. Pearce is play­ing the dupe.”


Melissa Jenk­ins, a 2007 col­lege grad­u­ate, was liv­ing with her fam­ily in North Read­ing, Mass., when she posed with her mother, Diana (right), a year later.

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