Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik complained about vitriol in politics just after the shootings and said Arizona had "become the mecca of prejudice and bigotry." Salt Lake resident Dan Baltes wants to oust Dupnik from office. CHRIS MORRISON / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

A Salt Lake man who hosts an Internet talk-radio program is trying to recall Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik.

Dan Baltes, executive director of Americans Against Immigration Amnesty LLC, said he started the recall after Dupnik made comments linking vitriol in politics with the deadly shootings in Tucson Jan. 8.

It's unclear, however, whether someone who does not live in Pima County can start a recall against a county official, said Pima County Elections Director Brad Nelson.

State law says "a person or organization" may submit a recall application, but does not say that person must be registered to vote in the election. While it's clear only registered voters can sign recall petitions, Nelson said it is unclear whether the applicant who takes out the petitions must also be able to vote in that election. He is seeking advice from the County Attorney's Office.

Baltes said many people contacted his organization last week and wanted to know what they could do about Dupnik's comments. They were angry a law enforcement official was offering his political opinion at an inappropriate time, he said. Though his organization is focused on immigration, he said he was not aware of Dupnik's opposition to SB 1070 until he started researching the sheriff's recent comments.

Dupnik, a Democrat, spoke during a televised press conference about the shootings in Tucson, which killed six people and injured 13, including U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. He complained about vitriol in politics and said Arizona had "become the mecca of prejudice and bigotry."

Baltes said he filed paperwork via e-mail and postal mail Tuesday, but by late afternoon Nelson said his office had not received it. If the application is accepted, 90,809 valid signatures will be needed, Nelson said.

Dupnik is serving his eighth term and is up for reelection in 2012.

Nelson said the soonest a recall election could be held likely is March 2012. The winner of a March 2012 recall election would keep the seat only for the remainder of the term and be required to seek re-election during the normal 2012 election cycle, with a primary in August and the general election in November, Nelson said.

This would be the fifth attempt in 18 years to recall a county elected official. Efforts were started against Supervisor Sharon Bronson in 2009 and 2000. Supervisor Ed Moore faced the same in 1993. Both failed to get enough signatures to make the ballot.

The last recall to make it all the way to voters was in 1994 for County Assessor Alan Lang, a Democrat. He was removed from office.

Contact reporter Andrea Kelly at akelly@azstarnet.com or 807-7790.