Lawmakers propose recall changes after Pearce scenario - East Valley Tribune: Mesa

Lawmakers propose recall changes after Pearce scenario

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Posted: Tuesday, February 14, 2012 9:47 am

A Senate panel added one more hurdle in the path of those seeking to oust a public official through a recall.

SB 1449 would scrap the current system where there is a single election to determine whether the official stays or goes after sufficient signatures have been gathered to force a recall.

Instead, the recalled official would first have to survive a primary battle with foes from within his or her own party. Then the survivor of that race - whether the recalled official or a challenger - would then face off in a general election against contenders from other parties.

Sen. Steve Smith, R-Maricopa, said that mirrors the current system for regular partisan elections.

But Smith acknowledged that the measure is a direct outgrowth of last year's successful recall of Senate President Russell Pearce.

He was defeated in the single winner-take-all election by fellow Republican Jerry Lewis. Smith said that allowed Democrats - a minority in Pearce's Mesa legislative district - to align with independents and Republicans unhappy with Pearce to force him out.

Smith said Lewis would never have survived a primary where only Republicans could vote.

The measure cleared the Judiciary Committee on Monday on a 3-2 vote. But Sen. Adam Driggs, R-Phoenix, said he's not convinced that the experience with Pearce -- Arizona's first and only recall election since statehood - is a reason to alter the process.

"I struggle to change laws based on really one example," he said. "We don't know all the different scenarios that could occur."

The bill now goes to the full Senate.

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