It's official: Voters in west Mesa will go to the polls to decide whether to keep Russell Pearce as their state senator.
Gov. Jan Brewer late Tuesday formally signed the proclamation to have the election Nov. 8. Brewer, a political ally of Pearce, admitted that she really had no choice: Once the Secretary of State's Office certified on Friday that foes of the Senate president had gathered enough signatures to force a recall, her signature became just a formality.
At this point the only thing that could short-circuit the vote would be a successful challenge by Pearce to the process.
In a prepared statement, Pearce said his lawyers are still reviewing the process that county and state officials used to determine that there were at least the 7,756 valid signatures required to force him to defend his office. The final official tally actually came in far higher, at 10,365.
Pearce has through Monday to file suit if he decides to mount a legal challenge.
He reiterated his intent to fight to serve out the balance of his current two-year term, saying that, despite the number of signatures gathered, most of his constituents support the positions he has taken on issues ranging from state spending to border security.
Gubernatorial press aide Matthew Benson said his boss will back Pearce in his fight to retain his seat.
"He's been an efficient and effective leaders on issues like border security, the economy and the budget,'' Benson said. "And he's somebody that the people in the district know well.''
Pearce was elected to the state House in 2000, moving to the Senate after the 2008 election. His Republican colleagues chose him as Senate president after last year's election.
Would-be foes have until Sept. 9 to gather at least 621 signatures on petitions to run against Pearce, whose name appears on the ballot automatically. There is no primary, meaning whoever gets the most votes on Nov. 8 will fill out the balance of the term which runs through 2012.