This article was originally published on WNYC’s politics blog It’s A Free Country.
PHOENIX – Members of a group behind an historic recall of the architect of SB 1070 say the message is “loud and clear” for anyone that wants to follow in his footsteps in Arizona state politics.
“I hope that the message has been sent to them. We’re watching, if you try to mimic it, the same thing can happen to you,” said Chad Snow, chairman of Citizens for a Better Arizona (CBA), the group that led the successful recall effort against Republican Senator Russell Pearce.
Pearce, now the former president of the Arizona Senate, lost in the most conservative district in the state where the majority of the voters are Republican and Mormon like him.
His removal from the state legislature could alter the balance of power in a body that has passed dozens of bills to fight illegal immigration throughout the years.
Republican Rep. John Kavanagh expects that politicians that were “uncomfortable” with illegal immigration related bills last year, including one to deny birthright citizenship to the children of undocumented immigrants, will be more careful.
“I think they’ll certainly be more cautious in what they support,” he said. “No one is going to come in as a result of Senator Pearce losing and try to undo any of his legislation. But additional legislation may be halted or slowed.”
Others have vowed to continue with Pearce’s legacy. Republican Senator Steve Pierce was elected on Thursday to the Senate President post and promised to follow in Pearce’s footsteps.
Pearce rose slowly through the ranks of the Arizona Legislature, first as a representative, then as the head of the appropriations committee and finally as Senate president. Fighting illegal immigration was always his main focus. Rep. Kavanagh argued that, thanks to Pearce, Arizona already has among the strictest anti-immigrant legislation in the country, and his leadership inspired similar legislation in places like Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina.
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