The group that successfully forced a recall against Russell Pearce is now turning its sights on Gov. Jan Brewer.
Randy Parraz, president of Citizens for a Better Arizona, began taking names Monday from those who are willing to do some of the hard work he said it will take to force the governor to defend her office.
Parraz specifically wants commitments from 5,000 people who each promise to get at least 100 signatures on recall petitions. He said that's the bare minimum of what it will take to put Brewer's tenure before voters.
But Parraz said that, at least for the time being, there is no formal move to oust the governor.
"We're going to let the decision be on the voters, the citizens of Arizona, to see if they want that type of recall," Parraz said at a press conference at the Capitol.
"We're putting the work back on them," he explained, while publicizing the sign-up sheet for petition circulators on the group's website. "If you want to do that work, sign up."
There is a reason for adopting a wait-and-see attitude.
It takes 432,021 valid signatures on petitions to even call an election. More to the point, once a recall is formally started, backers have only four months to gather all of the necessary signatures.
He promised to reveal the tally on Jan. 8.
"I don't think it's a threat," he said. "I think we're calling people to action."
And he took pains to stress that his group is not the one leading the effort.
"We're responding to the call," he said. "People want that," Parraz continued, saying that "you can't just flip a switch" and recall a governor.
But Parraz said he isn't gathering names as purely an academic exercise, saying his group would "be in the position to move that particular agenda." That includes not only organizing the effort but raising the money necessary.
"Some things have to happen before we make that decision as an organization to do that work," he said.
Personally, Parraz said he would prefer not to do another recall.
"But we're not going to take it off the table if, in fact, she continues to behave in extreme ways consistent with Pearce-style politics," he said. "We just feel that time has passed."
Brewer at first laughed when asked if she thought she would be recalled.
"I think any elected official understands that people have the right to exercise their privilege of recalling," she said, though she conceded the effort against Pearce was the first ever against a state elected official in Arizona's 99-year history. Asked if she was concerned, Brewer responded, "I haven't given it any thought."
Chad Snow, one of the co-founders of Citizens for a Better Arizona, said the Pearce recall shows that voters do not want elected officials to focus on just a single issue. But Brewer said that she does not view Pearce's ouster by voters in his Mesa district as a sign that Arizonans want less focus on immigration legislation and more attention to employment and education.
"I think that most polls will tell you that illegal immigration is a big concern to a majority of the people in Arizona," the governor said.
Brewer, who backed Pearce in the election he lost to Jerry Lewis, also said she saw no reason for that recall.
She pointed out that legislators have to go before voters every two years. That would have put Pearce back before residents of his district this coming year.
That, however, is not the case with Brewer: Her four-year term runs through 2014 unless she is recalled before that.
Parraz also said his organization is lining up volunteers who want to help oust Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. But with the sheriff's term up next year, Parraz said the focus instead will be on convincing voters to support someone else, though he had no names.
Parraz said the task of ousting a sitting governor is daunting.
Election officials routinely invalidate a portion of signatures on most petition drives, often because the person was not registered to vote.
In the Pearce recall, his group turned in more than 18,300 signatures. But by the time the verification process was completed, the tally stood at 10,365.
Parraz said he figures a recall effort against Brewer would need to collect at least 700,000 signatures.
He did suggest there are ways for the governor to avoid a recall. One relates to her efforts - unsuccessful so far - to remove the chairwoman of the Independent Redistricting Commission.
"We want a public apology from the governor that she will leave her hands off this process and she will respect the voters," Parraz said.
Parraz also said Brewer should call a special legislative session to qualify about 15,000 Arizonans whose jobless benefits have run out for an extra 20 weeks of payments.
In fact, Brewer had asked lawmakers to approve such a plan earlier this year, noting the entire cost would be picked up by the federal government. But GOP legislative leaders refused to go along unless the governor, in turn, would agree to additional tax cuts for business; she would not.
Parraz was not impressed.
"She didn't put much effort into it," he said. Parraz said if Brewer really used all of her political capital the votes would have been there.
Arpaio said the decision to target him along with Brewer, after getting rid of Pearce unmasks what he said is the true motive of Parraz and his group.
"It isn't education; it's illegal immigration," the sheriff said, saying that issue is a "common denominator" among all three.
Arpaio said he's not concerned about being targeted.
"These groups go after me every election," he said. Nor did he believe that the success in recalling Pearce would translate to the political strength necessary to remove him.
"Going after Russell is different than going after the county sheriff," Arpaio said.