By David Schwartz
PHOENIX (Reuters) - Arizona Governor Jan Brewer on Tuesday ordered a special election for November 8 to decide the fate of a high-profile state lawmaker behind Arizona's controversial immigration crackdown.
Brewer ordered the vote to recall Republican Russell Pearce, the state senate's president and chief architect of Senate Bill 1070, after a citizen's group turned in enough valid signatures to force it.
Barring any legal challenges, voters in Pearce's Mesa, Arizona, district will go to the polls in what is believed to be the first recall election of a state legislator in Arizona history.
Pearce said he had no plans to resign and would launch an aggressive campaign against those seeking to oust him from office. He said in a statement he plans to focus on his record on key issues including economic recovery, job creation, balanced budgets, law enforcement and border security.
"These are the issues that my constituents believe in and why they have voted 16 times to send me to the legislature," Pearce said.
"I have never lost an election and will fight these outside forces that support lax law enforcement, amnesty and open borders."
Last week, the state verified that Citizens for a Better Arizona had collected 10,365 signatures to force the election. The group needed 7,756 valid signatures.
The group launched the recall drive because of legislation pushed by the fiery conservative lawmaker, including a wide range of bills designed to stem the flow of illegal immigrants into the country and crack down on the rights of those already in the state.
"We believe that Senator Pearce's agenda and behavior is too extreme for Arizona," the group said in a statement to Reuters late on Tuesday.
His efforts have gained Pearce nationwide notice, peaking in April last year when Brewer, a Republican, signed the immigration bill into law amid massive protests.
The bill mandated police check the immigration status of anyone they might detain and suspect is in the country illegally. Key provisions were blocked by a federal judge, and the state has said it will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Similar measures have been drawn up in states across the nation.
(Editing by Tim Gaynor and Cynthia Johnston)