“I intend to spend a little time with my God, my wife and my family and reassess where we need to go,” now former Senator Russell Pearce stated in his concession speech after admitting after early elections results came in. The 64-year-old politician, first elected to the state legislature in 2000, championed Arizona’s controversial crackdown on illegal immigrants and was the chief architect of the 2010 Arizona state law that required police to check the immigration status of anyone they detain and suspect could be in the country illegally. The law’s enactment infuriated Latino and civil rights activists, prompted economic boycotts of Arizona, and sparked a court challenge by the Obama Administration, which has been appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The backlash resulted in a recall movement that culminated in the approval of a mid-term election challenge after a citizen’s group turned in enough signatures to put it on the ballot. The historic recall election is believed to be the first ever mounted against a state legislator in Arizona. Election results are not yet official, due to an unknown number of early votes and provisional ballots remaining to be tabulated.
Is this a victory for immigrants and civil rights activists, or too soon to tell before the Supreme Court makes its decision? Could such a movement compel similar opposition to the Secure Communities program?