The Arizona Republican Party's second-in-command resigned over the weekend after he called for the forced sterilization of women as a requirement for receiving public aid.
According to the Arizona Republic, former state Sen. Russell Pearce—who once passed along neo-Nazi literature to his campaign supporters and called fellow Republicans "sissies" for giving up on the word "wetback"—resigned as Arizona Republican Party's first vice chair on Sunday, one day after telling listeners about his downright Goebbels-esque designs for the state's Medicaid program on his weekly call-in radio show.
"You put me in charge of Medicaid, the first thing I'd do is get Norplant, birth-control implants, or tubal ligations…Then we'll test recipients for drugs and alcohol, and if you want to [reproduce] or use drugs or alcohol, then get a job."
Arizona Democrats immediately pounced, calling for Republicans to condemn the remarks.
In a statement released on Saturday evening, Arizona Democratic Party executive director DJ Quinlan took note that—at least to that point—the state's GOP leadership had been silent on the remarks, adding that the silence "indicates that they have made a cynical calculation that Russell Pearce and his brand of politics appeals to the most extreme elements of their electoral base."
Shortly thereafter, the state's GOP candidates for governor, secretary of state, attorney general and Congressional candidates all spoke out against Pearce.
"The notion that government would force sterilization upon anyone is counter to everything I believe about individual liberty and contrary to the founding principles of a free nation," said GOP attorney general candidate Mark Brnovich's in a statement on Sunday. "Comments that demean the plight of the poor, including women in the dual role of mother and economic provider, are not conservative; they're cruel. And I reject them."
GOP Congressional candidate Michele Reagan responded to Pearce's comments via Twitter:
The obnoxious comments made by Russell Pearce were both disgusting and offensive. Let it be known, he is NOT the voice of my GOP. #Resign!
— Michele Reagan (@VoteReagan) September 15, 2014
GOP gubenertorial candidate Doug Ducey also took to Twitter on Sunday to distance himself from Pearce's comments.
I couldn't disagree more with Russell Pearce's deplorable comments. They have no place in our discourse.
— Doug Ducey (@dougducey) September 15, 2014
By Sunday afternoon, Pearce had submitted his resignation as vice chair of the Arizona Republican Party, saying that he didn't want his comments—which he claims were "shared comments written by someone else and failed to attribute them to the author"—to be used by Democrats and the media to attack GOP candidates.
Pearce—a former Chief Deputy Sheriff under Maricopa County's infamous Sheriff Joe Arapaio and who was probably best known outside the state as the driving force behind Arizona's draconian 2010 anti-immigration law that required all aliens (i.e. non-white people) over the age of 14 to carry state or federal identification showing that they were a legal resident of the United States—is no stranger to passing along fascinating bits of racist and fascist thoughts to his audience and supporters.
In 2006, Pearce got in trouble for forwarding an article from the neo-Nazi group National Alliance entitled "Who Rules in America? The Alien Grip on Our News and Entertainment Media Must Be Broken" in an email to his campaign supporters.
Around that same time, Pearce also got into some trouble for citing an Eisenhower-era anti-illegal immigration task force called "Operation Wetback" as a model for dealing with the immigration issue in Arizona.
When confronted about the word "wetback," Pearce called his fellow Republicans "sissies" for giving up on racist terms.
"In the '50s, [the term] was common. In the '60s, it was common," Pearce said. "You don't use it today because people have tried to make it offensive. Things change, and you know what? Who cares?"
Despite—or perhaps because of—his aggressively divisive nature, Pearce was considered a rising star in the Tea Party-dominated Arizona Republican Party and was actually President of the Arizona Senate for a time after he successfully pushed through the state's anti-immigration law, but was finally recalled by fed-up voters in 2011 and replaced by a somewhat more moderate Republican named Jerry Lewis.
Pearce lost a GOP primary comeback bid for another open state senate seat in 2012 by a 56 to 44 percent margin in a campaign that was marked by a series of catastrophic gaffes by Pearce and his staff—including Pearce claiming on his Facebook page that the Aurora, Colorado, movie theater shooting that left 12 dead and 58 wounded could have been stopped if only the victims were armed and had shown more courage.
"Where were the men of flight 93???? Someone should have stopped this man," said Pearce. "...All that was needed is one Courages/Brave(sic) man prepared mentally or otherwise to stop this it could have been done."
The campaign was also hit with unanswered questions about Pearce's relationship with a white supremacist named JT Ready—described as a former close friend and associate of Pearce who in May of 2012 killed four people in a suburban Phoenix home in a murder-suicide.
Despite these problems, Pearce still (curiously) managed to gather 44 percent of the vote.
Image via AP