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Paperwork filed in attempt to recall Diane Douglas

Diane Douglas

Diane Douglas

They can’t gather their first signature for more than seven months.

But foes of Republican Diane Douglas, newly elected the state school superintendent, now have the legal ability to start soliciting funds for the effort.

The Coalition to Recall Diane Douglas has filed the necessary paperwork with the Secretary of State’s Office required by Arizona law to get involved in elections. Maxwell Goshert, the committee’s treasurer, said this is the first step to what he believes will be Douglas’ ouster close to a year from now.

But a lot remains to be done.

The Arizona Constitution requires the signatures of 25 percent of the people who voted in the most recent gubernatorial election to even call for such a vote.

That figure won’t be finalized until the vote is formally canvassed this coming week. But preliminary figures put the target in the range of 367,000 signatures.

In reality, though, recall organizers will need to seek closer to 450,000 names on petitions given the rate at which names are disqualified during the verification process.

They cannot legally start collecting signatures until Douglas has been in office for six months. That means early July.

And with just a 120-day window to get the names, that is likely to require the use of paid circulators who could charge $1 a name or more. Hence, the need to have lots of money in the bank before it all starts.

Goshert, an unapologetic foe of Douglas who squeaked to a narrow victory over Democrat David Garcia last month, said it’s conceivable that the recall will not proceed.

“She has six months to prove herself to voters,” he said. And Goshert said recall organizers are willing to give her that chance.

“But we believe we’re not going to be impressed by what she does in the next six months in office,” he said.

“So we’re preparing for what it will take to get a recall in action,” Goshert continued. “Because it’s going to take a lot of momentum to make people aware of who she is, what she is trying to do,” other than repeal the Common Core academic standards.

Douglas did not return phone calls and email messages seeking comment.

Even if Goshert’s group gets the signatures, it remains an open question of whether voters, having just put her in office for a four-year term, are willing to oust her early.

Goshert acknowledged that voters did have a clear choice between Douglas and Garcia.

A former member and president of the Peoria Unified School District governing board, she campaigned largely on her opposition to Common Core, calling them standards “controlled by federal bureaucrats in Washington, D.C., or ivory-tower academics or quite frankly people who just want to make a dollar off our poor children.” Douglas said she will instead listen to parents and teachers.

Garcia, an associate professor of education, supports the standards, saying they will ensure that children have the skills they need to get a job or go on to higher education. Yet he lost despite backing from many Republicans, including two former state school superintendents.

In Arizona, recall is not a yes-or-no question. It requires someone else to run against the incumbent.

Goshert sidestepped questions of why he believes that someone else offered up next year would fare any better than Garcia. In fact, Goshert said the group does not even have any idea of who might run against her.

“It’s not something that we’re tackling right now,” he said. “Right now we’re just focusing on the recall effort, on giving the voters the chance to get somebody else they believe would be more qualified in office.”

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