The Mesa Republican and former Sheriff's deputy died Thursday, according to a spokesperson with the Republican Caucus of the Arizona State Senate. Pearce was one of the most politically polarizing figures in recent Arizona history, riding an anti-immigration movement to national prominence. He was the lead sponsor of SB 1070, a law that allowed law enforcement in Arizona to demand proof of citizenship during traffic stops. The U.S. Supreme Court struck down most of the law as unconstitutional but upheld the so-called "show me your papers" provision.
Pearce was also the first state senator in Arizona history to be recalled by voters in his district.