Arizona Recall Election Could Spark National Repercussions for Immigration Reform

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The dust has barely settled around the state recall election in Wisconsin where Democrats were only able to claim two of the six seats, but already national attention is turning to another heated recall in Arizona.

While Wisconsin instigated states across the country to try to change the way public employees could engage in collective bargaining, Arizona's recall could put comprehensive immigration reform back in the political spotlight ahead of the 2012 election.

The author of the controversial immigration law Arizona SB 1070- widely considered to be anti-immigrant and very strict - Republican state Sen. Russell Pearce, will face the first recall election of a state legislator there in history this November. It's a first for Arizona, but Pearce will be the ninth state legislator nationally to face a recall this year.

So far at least three people have decided to challenge the senator. And this week a Maricopa Co. judge is expected to rule on a petition to throw the entire recall out based on what supporters say was a flawed process.

Pearce was propelled onto the national stage as a champion of conservative and Tea Party polices with the passage of 1070. It requires law enforcement to check the immigration status of people they lawfully stop and whom they suspect to be in the country illegally.

Pearce, not afraid of stirring a national debate, has said before, "I consider this to be the Tea Party Senate and we intend to take back America one state at a time."

He may count himself a success in that regard. His immigration legislation inspired similar laws in five other states, but which have been challenged in federal court.

Many Arizonans and even some members of his own party believe he has gone too far. His bill to deny "birthright citizenship" to Arizona residents failed and Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed some of his other headline grabbing legislation such as the "birther bill" requiring presidential candidates to provide birth certificates.

Citizens for a Better Arizona, a grassroots group, submitted the necessary amount of signatures to get the special election, because Pearce is "too extreme for Arizona" they say. The group's attorney appeared before a judge Monday insisting process was followed to the letter and that they submitted more signatures than were actually required to get a recall.

Pearce supporters are not backing down. Two of his strongest allies see the recall as a Washington-funded campaign against Arizona's immigration reform. Gov. Brewer and Maricopa Co. Sheriff Joe Arpaio have sent out emails asking for donations and direct readers to a web site, which urges supporters to "Stand with him today and send President Obama, Secretary Napolitano and their liberal friends a message that we will never give up the fight to secure our borders."

While it remains to be seen what, if any, out-of-state groups will jump in to aid Pearce's opponents, his staunch views on illegal immigration have already attracted supporters from outside Arizona's borders. Team America PAC, founded by former Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., to elect leaders who share the group's view of border security and immigration reform, is raising funds for the re-election fight.