The ousted state senator who championed Arizona's illegal immigration law says he has no regrets but that he'd like voters to give him a second chance.
Removed from office in a November 2011 recall election in which the immigration issue was a major focus, Russell Pearce is now running to return to the Arizona Legislature, where he was Senate president.
Pearce appears to be in a tough battle as he faces prominent businessman Bob Worsley in the Aug. 28 Republican primary for the state Senate seat for a redrawn district in suburban Mesa.
Worsley, founder of the SkyMall in-flight shopping catalog and now involved in energy and mining businesses, has been endorsed by several major business groups and by all members of the Mesa City Council.
And Pearce trails in fundraising. He began the year with a campaign war chest of $35,555, but he reported raising only $2,822 through May 31. Meanwhile, Worsley raised over $67,000, which includes a $50,000 personal loan but also $17,445 in contributions.
By contrast, Pearce's recall election campaign, "Patriots for Pearce," raised and spent approximately $260,000, according to his final campaign-finance report.
"It's definitely harder to raise money when your first name isn't `president,'" said Lee Miller, an attorney and Republican Party activist, referring to Pearce's former Senate leadership post.
One advantage that Pearce has going for him this time is that, unlike the recall election, Democrats cannot vote in the Republican primary.
"It will be a primary this time. It will be a fair fight," Pearce said. "It was the left that came in and removed me for keeping promises."
The Republican primary winner will be heavily favored in November because Republicans hold a 2-to-1 registration edge over Democrats in the district.
And Pearce and his supporters said he can draw vindication in the U.S. Supreme Court's June 25 decision on the constitutionality of provisions of the 2010 immigration law known as SB1070. The justices struck down several of the measure' key components, but upheld the so-called "show me your papers" provision that one Pearce supporter called the law's heart and soul.
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