Pearce trails in early results in comeback attempt
Web Producer: Ina Ronquillo
PHOENIX (AP) - A former Arizona legislator known nationally for championing recent laws against illegal immigration trailed an opponent as he attempted a political comeback.
Former state Senate President Russell Pearce trailed businessman Bob Worsley in their race for the Republican Senate nomination in District 25 in Mesa in Tuesday's primary election.
Worlsey had a 2,500-vote margin with nearly 17,000 votes counted.
A year after winning passage of the law known as SB1070, Pearce lost a 2011 recall election largely focused on the illegal immigration issue.
All 90 legislative seats are up this year, but only some figure in contested contests in the primary.
House Speaker Andy Tobin was one of three current lawmakers battling for two Republican nominations for House seats from District 1 in Yavapai County and northern Maricopa County.
Redistricting put Sen. Lori Klein in the same district with Tobin and Rep. Karen Fann.
Worsley founded the SkyMall in-flight shopping catalog and is now involved in energy and mining businesses. He was endorsed by several major business groups and by all members of the Mesa City Council.
Worsley outspent Pearce by nearly 2-1, according to campaign finance reports.
Illegal immigration was a major focus of the 2011 recall race that Pearce lost to a fellow Republican now in a different district, but the issue has faded somewhat as a top-tier concern as even Pearce emphasized education and economic concerns in the primary race.
Worsley and his supporters argued that Mesa deserved better representation, with more emphasis on economic concerns and less focus on controversial issues such as illegal immigration.
Pearce was the chief sponsor of the Arizona immigration enforcement law known as SB1070. The Supreme Court in June upheld its controversial provision requiring police to question people about their immigration status under certain circumstances.
Pearce said during the primary campaign that he hadn't done anything wrong and that his critics were ignoring his work on other concerns.
In other primary races:
- Sen. Richard Crandall faced Rep. John Fillmore in the Republican primary for the Senate seat from District 16 in eastern Maricopa County and northern Pinal County.
Crandall has a mostly conservative voting record but is regarded as more moderate than Fillmore, who has tea party leanings.
- Rep. Nancy McLain faced Sam Scarmardo and Kelli Ward for the Republican nomination for Senate in District 5 mostly in Mohave County in northwestern Arizona.
- Ex-Sen. Ken Cheuvront faced Rep. Katie Hobbs for the Democratic nomination for Senate from District 24 in central Phoenix.
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