Russell Pearce

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Russell K. Pearce was an Arizona politician and former president of the Arizona State Senate.

Prior to starting his political career, he was a deputy sheriff for 23 years with the Maricopa County Sheriff’s office. He received a Medal of Valor from the department after he continued to pursue several gang members after being shot in the chest. He worked for the Arizona Motor Vehicle Division when he left the sheriff’s department after disagreements with Chief Deputy Sheriff Joe Arpaio.[1] In 1995, Pearce became the Director of the Arizona Motor Vehicle Division, where he served until August 1999.

Pearce was elected to the Arizona House in 2000 and represented a district in the Mesa area. In 2006 he moved to the Arizona Senate and became the president of the Arizona State Senate in January 2011. On May 31, 2011, Citizens for a Better Arizona turned in 18,315 signatures to the Arizona Secretary of State's Office to recall Pearce from office. Arizona Governor Jan Brewer called for a special recall election in November, in which he was defeated. Pearce was the first state lawmaker in Arizona history to be recalled.

He ran again in August 2012, but lost the primary election. He served as the Vice-Chair of the Arizona GOP until he resigned in September 2014. He then worked for the Maricopa County Treasurer’s office.

Pearce was the author of Arizona SB 1070, a controversial anti-immigrant law that was passed in April 2010. The Obama administration challenged the law, which resulted in the U.S. Supreme Court striking down three of the bill’s provisions.[2]

Pearce died on January 5, 2023, at the age of 75. He was credited by former Arizona Senate President Russell "Rusty" Bowers as someone who “worked hard for what he believed.”[3]