Random Thoughts On the Arpaio Recall


Posted by Bob Lord

Sorry, but this may be a bit stream of consciousness. Everything relates to the now unsuccessful Arpaio recall effort, but the thoughts otherwise may be unconnected.

First, was it a wasted effort? Absolutely not. Thousands of new voters were identified and registered. The data contained on those petitions is incredibly valuable. Some of those signature gatherers had their first taste of activism and liked it. And, if we look closely at who didn't support the recall effort, well, we know something about them we need to know. On that last item, there's a list of elected officials and candidates on the Respect Arizona website. Note the Dems who are not on it. 

Second, we saw who in the media gets it and who doesn't. Steve Lemons showed himself to be the class act he is. Laurie Roberts, well, Laurie deserves her own paragraph:

Laurie was quick to write a piece, Joe Arpaio recall sputters to its inevitable end, tearing into the recall proponents within hours after the deadline passed. Laurie luxuriated in what she perceived to be the vindication of her view that an official should not be recalled too soon after re-election. Saying something doesn't make it so, however. There's a reason why the statute allows the recall of an incumbent to begin right away, but imposes a waiting time on newly elected office holders. Obviously, the legislature thought acts committed prior to the election constituted cause for a recall, and that an office holder's re-election doesn't wipe the slate clean. Far more importantly, however, the recall people knew full well Arpaio has been engaging in racial profiling. They didn't need to wait for a court to confirm that. When that decision came down, it was not a time for Roberts to marvel at the irony "that the recall ends on a week in which voters now have a reason to reconsider their vote,"  but a time for her to take a long, hard look in the mirror. If she had an ounce of humility, her reaction to the court decision would have been "Wow, did I ever blow that one. I should have been aware of the profiling and been on board with the recall all along." You see, a recall is not merely about "overturning the results of an election" as Roberts suggested. A recall rests on the same principles as a filibuster did before the Republicans corrupted it. It is a vehicle for a minority to say to a majority, "Hey, we feel really strongly about this. You need to take a closer look." The idea behind the recall is that if folks feel strongly enough to go collect 335,000 signatures, we all should reconsider our vote. If the idea were to overturn the election, the signature threshold would be set at 51%. But it isn't. 

Third, we need to know why the Democratic establishment was hard to find on this. Was it because they didn't want to get their hands dirty, or because the recall folks didn't cultivate their support (as opposed to demanding it)? I don't know the answer, but it's hard to believe the active support of big name politicians would not have been welcome. 

Fourth, why did the money to make this happen not show up? Arpaio is a national embarassment. The money should have been coming from everywhere to fund this effort. Think about it. We have a population that is over 15% Latino. That's about 50 million people. And we couldn't find the resources to fund the recall of a racist sheriff who was known nationally for persecuting Latinos, citizen and non-citizen alike?

Fifth, I wholeheartedly supported the recall movement and gave money and some time to it. I feel a little guilty about not giving more time. But, still, I wonder, is it productive in the scheme of things? On the one hand, Arpaio is absolute garbage and has been making the lives of many miserable. He is a cancer that needs to be excised. On the other hand, I can picture a foursome of bankers in a country club grill room getting a good laugh at how a bunch of struggling Latinos were out there fighting the recall out with a bunch of struggling rednecks, while both groups worked overtime to pay 23% interest on their credit cards, thus funding the bankers' lifestyle. That's a troubling picture.  


  1. I went to the event at the county board of supervisors building Thursday as well as the followup party at the Respect Arizona office. I was very impressed by the passion of my fellow supporters who were actively gathering signatures up until 4:00 PM. I am very happy that everybody involved took on Sheriff Joe Arpaio as even having the opportunity to write your signature on a recall petition is an opportunity to let Mr. Apraio know that there are hundreds of thousands of people that are unhappy with the job he is (not) doing.

    Thane Eichenauer

  2. So voters elected him, and not enough voters signed the petition. I think it says way more about Maricopa County voters than about the recall effort.

    Joe’s jail is like Abu Ghraib. Taxpayers have had to fork over 40 million dollars in wrongful injury and death suits, with a potential of paying $20 million more for the death of Marty Atencio. Joe has allowed and endorsed the MCSO to racially profile, and his group has no time to investigate sex crimes against children, because they’re busy busting housekeepers and landscapers.

    Still those blue hairs up there are just fine with it. They never saw a brown person in Iowa and they don’t want to see one here.
    So while you’re right that the effort was not fully supported by those who should (Dems), the white culture in Maricopa County is a giant stumbling block to overturning the status quo.
    It’s embarrassing to live here.