PHOENIX -- The head of a Hispanic Republican group filed legal papers Thursday seeking to recall Senate President Russell Pearce.
The petition, filed by Dee Dee Blase, says Pearce should be ousted from his office because of his "overt disdain for the United States Constitution." It says that is "indicative of his inability to govern as prescribed."
The filing came just hours after state lawmakers introduced legislation designed to deny citizenship to children of illegal immigrants. While Pearce is not the prime sponsor of any of the measures, he has been the architect of the idea, both in Arizona and nationally.
"It was the straw that broke the camel's back," Blase said.
But Blase added that her organization, Somos Republicans, has been unhappy with Pearce for quite some time, most recently because of his sponsorship of legislation last year to give police more power to detain and arrest suspected illegal immigrants.
Blase, a Scottsdale resident, does not live in Pearce's legislative district. But state law allows anyone to organize a recall; the only requirement is that all the signatures come from people who live in the district.
Organizers have until May 27 to gather 7,756 valid signatures to force a special election. If Pearce does not resign, then he faces a single open election against however many residents of his district file petitions to run against him.
The move comes less than three months after Pearce handily won reelection, getting 17,552 votes against 10,663 for Democrat Andrew Sherwood and 2,808 for Libertarian Andrea Garcia.
What's different now, Blase said, is that the Church of Latter-day Saints is backing what has been called the "Utah Compact." It opposes immigration policies that separate families and says that immigration is a federal and not a state issue. Mesa has a large percentage of members of the LDS church, including Pearce himself.
"I believe, and I know, that there is a change of heart within the Mormon community," she said. "And that is where we hope to continue to educate that community."
That education, Blase said, will emphasize the cost to the state of fighting lawsuits with the federal government.
Pearce did not immediately return calls seeking comment.