The Arizona senator behind last year's controversial anti-illegal immigration law is likely to face a recall vote after opponents gathered enough signatures to force him to stand for re-election early.

MyFoxPhoenix reports that local officials have verified at least 8,000 signatures -- more than the 7,756 needed for a recall of Arizona state Senate President Russell Pearce. The numbers are unofficial, but appear to set the stage for an historic special election.

Once a few formalities are taken care of, it would be up to Gov. Jan Brewer to issue the final order -- the election could fall in either November or March.

Pearce, a Republican, has expressed confidence that he can defend his seat. But the conservative lawmaker has faced a groundswell of opposition, nationally and locally, since he wrote the immigration law last year which has since become a model for other states. The law, signed by Brewer, ordered local law enforcement to check for immigration status in the course of their duties -- though the law is now tied up in court.

Pearce has also advocated for restrictions on what he calls "birthright citizenship" -- automatic citizenship conferred on those born on U.S. soil, even if their parents are illegal immigrants.

Citizens for a Better Arizona, which pushed the recall vote, calls him "too extreme for Arizona."

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