I’d be lying if I said I was not extremely disappointed by being voted out in a recall election. It has been an honor to serve the people of Arizona in the Legislature for the last decade and I am sad to go under these circumstances.
There is still much to be done, even though we lead the nation in many areas, such as economic recovery, safer neighborhoods, job creation, quality education, Second Amendment freedom, lower taxes, less regulation, defense of the unborn, protection of property rights, and yes, a return to the principles laid down by our Founding Fathers. We have changed the national debate in a good way. More than 34 states are modeling legislation after Arizona. WOW, who would have ever thought we could have had that kind of an impact? I am deeply grateful for this opportunity to serve and to have made a difference.
The World War II pilots had a saying; “If you’re not taking flak, you’re not over the target,” Well apparently I’ve been over the target for some time.
The left have said terrible things, the media have manufactured their own truth and with NO basis in truth at all and others an extreme spin on the truth. It is sad and hurtful. Like I tease, if I believed half of what the media said, I wouldn’t vote for me. I have never broken my promises, I have been faithful to my oath of office, and I have done nothing immoral, illegal or dishonest and will continue to do what I believe is right and good for this constitutional republic. If the price for keeping promises is a recall, so be it. The left will continue to attack these moral values and the rule of law. I proudly take the arrows of the left and consider it a badge of honor.
One state Senate race would not be national news were it not for the fact that for the last several years, I have led the successful battle against illegal immigration on the state, local and national level, most notably by authoring Arizona’s SB 1070. It has made a difference here and nationally.
My critics claim that my defeat shows the voters oppose immigration control. Libertarian open border advocate Tamar Jacoby wrote, “Demagoguing immigrants looks like a sure vote-getter. But as Russell Pearce just proved, it’s not.” The pro-amnesty lobbying organization America’s Voice wrote: “The people of Mesa have spoken — and they have sent a message to Arizona and the nation: Anti-immigrant extremism doesn’t work”
I will not retreat from this fight, and the movement that I helped create is going strong.
Pretty much all political observers acknowledge that I would have not lost the race in a normal election. In 2010, at the height of the controversy over SB 1070, with high turnout, I was elected with nearly two thirds of the vote. What made this race different?
In a recall election, there is no primary. So my opponents put up Jerry Lewis, by design a nominal Republican, against me. In a normal election, he would have had no chance in the primary getting the Republican nod and with a registration edge to GOP voters in my district; I would have won easily against the Democrat in the general election. They knew that. However, the Democrats did not put up a candidate, they endorsed the Republican. Instead, the Democrat Party and left-wing groups like the SEIU and MoveOn.org all supported Lewis.
Additionally, there was a prolonged smear campaign against me for accepting (with dozens of other legislators) free college football tickets that loomed over the campaign. These attacks are groundless and I did nothing illegal or unethical and I followed legal councils advice. However, the main point 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.
While I am sad to have to leave office, I can look at the progress Arizona has made on the illegal immigration issue with pride.
In 2004, I authored and put Prop 200, The Protect Arizona Now Act, on the ballot. Compared to SB 1070, it was an incredibly modest bill that merely restricted public benefits to illegal aliens and protected against voting fraud. Nonetheless, virtually every politician in the state opposed the measure, and we were outspent 3-1. Still, the voters of Arizona passed it overwhelmingly.
In 2007, I introduced the Legal Arizona Workers Act to require that all employers in the State use E-Verify to ensure they do not hire illegal immigrants. After building enormous grassroots support across the state, the bill passed and then-Democratic Gov. Janet Napolitano signed it. This past May, the Supreme Court upheld it.
More than a dozen states passed E-Verify laws, and without having to worry about expensive litigation, we can expect even more to follow suit next year.
In 2010, I introduced SB 1070. John McCain and Jeff Flake both opposed Prop. 200 and both have been prime sponsors of amnesty, I knew where the people of Arizona stood and began to champion SB 1070. Now, most of our Republican congressmen and both U.S. senators at least give lip service to supporting SB 1070. More importantly, polls still show that Arizona voters support the law by a 2-1 margin.
This past year, Alabama, South Carolina, and Georgia all passed bills modeled after SB 1070.
There is no doubt that movement against illegal immigration on the state level has become bigger than me, and bigger than Arizona.
I have not decided whether or not I will run for the state Senate or another office in the future. However, I am confident that legislators and activists in Arizona and across the country will continue to pass laws to fight illegal immigration. I will do everything I can as a private citizen to assist them.
• Russell Pearce represented Mesa in the Arizona Legislature and was president of the state Senate until last week’s recall election.