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Effort launched to sack Wadsack

By Howard Fischer
Capitol Media Services

PHOENIX -- A Tucson political activist has launched what she called a grassroots drive to recall Arizona state Sen. Justine Wadsack.

Rolande Baker said Wednesday that Wadsack, a first-time lawmaker sworn in in January, "has since sponsored bills that have attacked marginalized communities within Legislative District 17.''

For example, she cited SB 1413 which would have required a city, town or county to immediately remove any homeless encampment after receiving a report and, if applicable, charge those there with trespassing or drug offenses.

Wadsack also has sought to amend the Arizona Constitution to repeal the power of cities to establish their own charters, part of a move to strip Tucson of its ability to keep its system of nominating council members by ward but electing them at large.

And then there was legislation which sought to make it a felony to expose a child to a "drag show.''

"She is amplifying hysteria about drag performances,'' Baker said.

But taking out the petitions is just the first -- and easiest -- part of the effort.

Baker needs to get at least 30,981 valid signatures of registered voters within the district by Sept. 5. And she acknowledged the effort is being run by volunteers with some small donations.

Even if an election is called, the earliest it could be held is March 2024 -- or possibly as late as May.

And there's also the fact that a successful recall means finding someone who can get more votes in a special election than Wadsack. Otherwise she keeps her job.

Baker said, though, it's not her job to round up contenders. She said, though, she is convinced others will come forward.

Wadsack told Capitol Media Services she is not worried about the effort, saying she is "busy at the Legislature'' working on issues from inflation relief, dealing with the border crisis including fentanyl smuggling, alleviating the water crisis and "ensuring our students are receiving the best education possible.''

"Frankly, this recall effort, and the people behind it, don't have any credibility,'' Wadsack said. "I'm not concerned to the slightest.''

The recall is just one of the efforts of the retired public school teacher.

She said she is a member of both the Arizona and Sunnyside education associations. And Baker said her political involvements range from the Red for Ed Movement to raise teacher payand efforts to protect the reproductive rights of women to a move to defeat U.S. Sen. Kysten Sinema in the 2024 election.

Baker also made national news last year when she was one of three women arrested for disrupting a session of the U.S. Supreme Court with a protest over the decision of the justices to reverse their historic 1973 Roe v. Wade decision which said women have a constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy.

That ruling allows each state to set its own abortion restrictions or ban the practice entirely.

She pleaded guilty to a single count of violating a law that bans "speeches and objectionable language'' in the Supreme Court building and was place on probation for one year with an order to stay away from the court.

Recalls are often not successful, at least in part of the number of signatures required to even call an election. That translates out to 25% of the people who turned out in the election.

There's also the fact that LD 17, which runs from southern Pinal County through the northern and eastern edges of Tucson is strongly Republican. Still, Wadsack outpolled Democrat Mike Nickerson by only about 3,000 votes out of nearly 124,000 ballots cast.

The last legislator successfully removed from office was Senate President Russell Pearce in 2011. That followed his sponsorship of SB 1070, far-reaching legislation to have the state get involved with finding and deporting those not in the country legally.


On Twitter: @azcapmedia