By David Schwartz
PHOENIX (Reuters) - A citizens' group that opposes the Arizona senate president because of his stance on illegal immigration and other issues has collected enough signatures to force a recall election for him, officials said on Friday.
Republican state Senator Russell Pearce rose to national attention as the chief architect of the state's tough anti-immigration law that was signed into law last year, but has been blocked by the courts.
Maricopa County elections officials certified the group Citizens for a Better Arizona has collected over 10,300 signatures in their effort to force a recall election for Pearce, said Yvonne Reed, a county elections spokeswoman.
The group only was required to collect 7,756 valid signatures under state law, Reed said.
Barring any successful legal challenges, officials said the recall election for Pearce, who represents Mesa, Arizona, could be called for November or March.
Pearce could not immediately be reached for comment on Friday. He has said he will not resign and plans to aggressively fight his ouster.
Citizens for a Better Arizona said it opposes Pearce because of his stance on immigration, and also for backing legislation that would allow guns at universities and privatize state parks.
A federal court blocked key provisions of the immigration law, including a mandate that police check the immigration status of anyone they might detain and suspect is in the country illegally. Arizona officials have pledged to take an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Since Arizona's passage of the bill, which was popular in the state, similar measures have been drawn up in states across the nation.
(Editing by Alex Dobuzinskis and Greg McCune)