State Senate President Russell Pearce, known nationally for his tough stance on immigration, said Thursday night he plans to return to a grass-roots approach in Mesa in hopes of retaining his seat in the Nov. 8 recall election.
At a Mountain View tea party event of more than 100 predominantly Pearce supporters, the embattled senator announced his campaign would start going door-to-door and canvass neighborhoods in an attempt to keep him in office.
"We'll go to work," Pearce said. "I'm 16-0 (in elections). People know me. I was born and raised in Mesa. It's going to be a battle. I worry about it, but I'll campaign on my record."
Pearce's record includes a litany of get-tough-on-immigration bills, including controversial SB 1070 which makes it a crime to be an undocumented illegal immigrant in Arizona. Major parts of the bill are still tied up in legal challenges by the U.S. Justice Department. He also stressed the need to further limit the federal government from meddling in Arizona's affairs and to protect citizens' constitutional rights while refusing to apologize for "wanting to strengthen the border."
"Enough is enough," Pearce said. The law is the law, and you have to enforce it."
During his 30-minute talk, Pearce made only one mention of Randy Parraz - a lawyer who spearheaded the recall effort against him. Pearce claimed Parraz orchestrated the candidacy of Jerry Lewis, a more moderate Republican and a member of the LDS church, like Pearce.
Courtney Snell, a leader of the Mountain View tea party, showed a video of Parraz at various events while denouncing his intentions.
As for accusations that the other recall candidate - Olivia Cortez - is simply a Pearce supporter who has entered the race to split the anti-Pearce vote, the state senator said he has never met her.
Pearce has intensified his campaign after the Arizona Supreme Court on Tuesday denied a request by Pearce supporter Franklin Bruce Ross that sought to have the recall election called off due to flaws on the signature petitions.
One of the Pearce supporters in attendance Thursday was Mike Keating, retired from the U.S. Navy's Submarine Force.
Outside was his silver Dodge Durango with about two dozen bumper stickers plastered on the back of it.
One of the bumper stickers said, "It ain't over ‘till the last liberal moves to Paris and I'll keep my money, my guns, my faith and my freedom and you can keep the change."
"I came here to support my friends and Russell Pearce," Keating said. "I don't always agree with Russell Pearce, but he's honest and up front. I like him."
However, Marilynn Wennerstrom, who lives next door to Pearce's brother, Lester, and who helped on the recall efforts, said it's time for Pearce to go.
"I've talked to many members of his family, and they're so mild-mannered, but nobody is quiet like him (Russell)," said Wennerstrom, who was in attendance Thursday at the Pearce rally. "He's just drunk with power, drunk with abusive power. It's just his rudeness and the continued hate. He used his position as Senate President as a bully pulpit.
"The most successful people in the world are the ones who can listen to another viewpoint."