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Olivia Cortes to stay on Russell Pearce recall ballot in Arizona

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From the state that brought you Joe Arpaio, Jan Brewer and Russell Pearce, please welcome Arizona’s latest (if unintentional) political lightning rod: Olivia Cortes.

Cortes gathered enough signatures to run against Senate President Pearce, arguably Arizona’s most powerful politician, in a recall election in November. So did fellow Republican Jerry Lewis.

But Lewis backers say Cortes is a fraud. In a lawsuit, they said she’s running only to siphon Latino votes from Lewis and hand the election to Pearce, the author of SB 1070, Arizona’s tough anti-illegal immigration law.

(For those not well-versed in Arizona politics: Brewer is the Republican governor who signed SB 1070 into law. Arpaio is the immigration-hawk sheriff of Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix, and Pearce’s former boss.)

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Lewis supporters asked a judge to remove Cortes from the recall ballots, though they’d already been printed and some had been mailed overseas.

But Judge Edward Burke ruled this week that Cortes could stay in the race, since no one could prove she’d done anything wrong, the Arizona Republic reported. Cortes appeared ‘genuinely opposed to what she believes is Pearce’s harsh legislative treatment of and comments about illegal Hispanic immigrants,’ the judge wrote.

The judge did find that Pearce supporters recruited Cortes in hopes of boosting Pearce’s chances. But Burke said it’s up to voters, not him, to pass judgment on that.

RELATED:

Arizona’s us-versus-them brand of politics

Russell Pearce: Arizona’s relentless conservative voice

Author of Arizona’s illegal immigration law to face recall election

-- Ashley Powers in Las Vegas


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