Pearce loses race to return to Ariz. Legislature

Pearce loses race to return to Ariz. Legislature

CREATED Aug. 28, 2012

Web Producer: Taylor Avey


PHOENIX (AP) - Russell Pearce, a former Arizona legislator known nationally for championing recent laws against illegal immigration, lost as he attempted a political comeback in Tuesday's primary election.

The former state Senate president lost to businessman Bob Worsley in their race for the Republican Senate nomination in District 25 in Mesa.

Worsley had a 2,600-vote margin with approximatey 19,600 votes counted, including thousands of early ballots and results from 14 of 37 precincts.

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.

In another high-profile race, House Speaker Andy Tobin and fellow Republican Rep. Karen Fann defeated Sen. Lori Klein in a battle for two GOP nominations for House seats from District 1 in Yavapai County and northern Maricopa County.

Redistricting put Klein in the same district with Tobin and 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.

Incumbents winning primary races for House nominations included Republican Reps. Doris Goodale, Carl Seel, Heather Carter, Eddie Farnsworth and John Kavanagh. Democrats wining contested House races included Chad Campbell, Lela Alston and Albert Hale.

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.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)