Wadsack recall effort underway

Wadsack recall effort underway

Hobbs, Kern, Wadsack, recall
Arizona Sens. Anthony Kern, R-Glendale, left, and Justine Wadsack, R-Tucson, right, stand and turn their backs on Arizona Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs as she gives the State of the State address at the Arizona Capitol in Phoenix on Jan. 9. Wadsack is facing a burgeoning recall effort led by her constituents in Legislative District 17 and out-of-district organizers frustrated by controversial bills and colorful comments. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Freshman Sen. Justine Wadsack, R-Tucson, is facing a burgeoning recall effort led by her constituents in Legislative District 17 and out-of-district organizers frustrated by controversial bills and colorful comments.

“People who do live in the district, retirees, are fed up and came to me because I have an organizing background,” organizer Christina Rodriguez said. She is one of three people pushing the recall effort and said her name won’t ultimately be attached to the filing.

Rodriguez doesn’t live in District 17; she’s a Democrat living in Legislative District 20, but said she was approached by disgruntled residents because she has a background in organizing. “My phone’s been ringing off the hook,” Rodriguez said.

The group hasn’t filed its recall petition yet but plans to in the second week of May. It will host five events each Saturday in April at Purple Heart Park in Tucson to drum up support. They intend to file in the first week of May and hope to overshoot the required 33,000 signatures by at least 2,000 since some may get thrown out in the verification process.

Wadsack filed some interesting partisan bills this year that are strongly opposed by Democrats and garnered a lot of attention from politicos. She filed a bill that would require cities to destroy homeless encampments, charge homeless people with trespassing and throw away their things and another bill that would make it a felony to take a minor to a drag show – or to perform in drag in view of a minor. Both those bills were seriously watered down with amendments.

Wadsack got the most attention for Senate Bill 1700, which would give parents the power to request schools ban books they deem inappropriate for a variety of reasons like promoting “gender fluidity” or using “pronouns.” That bill hasn’t been amended and passed the Senate on party lines with Democratic opposition.

“All this is not the view of the district. This is not what people want,” Rodriguez said of the bills. “From my talks at several events throughout the districts there is not one people that they can stand behind.”

In terms of the recall effort, Rodriguez said there wasn’t a particular catalyst, but that all of Wadsack’s comments and bills in general are upsetting people. She said the coalition is bipartisan and that the recall effort doesn’t involve a campaign for anyone to replace Wadsack.

Former Sen. Vince Leach, also a Republican, lost to Wadsack in the August primary election and tried to get her pulled from the general election ballot by accusing Wadsack of not actually living in the district. Friends of Leach took Wadsack to court over her residency, and she won the challenge.

Rodriguez said Leach tried to add her on Twitter, but she isn’t working with him. “That’s a whole different territory that I’m in right now, I’m just strictly focused on recall,” she said.

One of Wadsack’s enemies accused her of creating an anonymous Twitter account supporting herself, but Rodriguez said that she doesn’t have any proof of that and won’t make similar accusations.

Rodriguez’s group has a website and is frequently engaging with Wadsack on Twitter. Wadsack is actually engaging in several Twitter arguments, trading insults, and defending her bills against several people, but Rodriguez in particular.

If the recall effort is successful, Wadsack can choose to resign within five days, then someone would fill the seat until a recall election.

Wadsack did not immediately respond to a request for comment.