Arizona officials report record 800K ballots; race for county sheriff still close

Posted 8/7/20

With a record turnout, Valley voters made clear who they wish to represent them in the November general election, with all but a few races likely decided as elections officials continue counting ballots following Tuesday’s primary election.

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Arizona officials report record 800K ballots; race for county sheriff still close


With a record turnout, Valley voters made clear who they wish to represent them in the November general election, with all but a few races likely decided as elections officials continue counting ballots following Tuesday’s primary election.

Maricopa County District 3 Supervisor Bill Gates said in a statement yesterday that voter participation this year exceeded that of the previous two election cycles.

“The county is on track to exceed 800,000 votes. Participation in the primary election is up from 688,636 ballots cast in 2018 and 555,844 ballots cast in 2016,” Mr. Gates stated in an Aug. 6 press release.

He praised county staffers for running the election successfully, despite challenges posed by the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic.

“I cannot thank all of you enough, particularly our elections staff and volunteers for the great work that they have done. It is because of them and their hard work that we were able to administer an election of this size during the COVID-19 crisis,” Mr. Gates stated.

Mr. Gates is one of four incumbent Republican county supervisors who ran unopposed in their party’s primary race on Tuesday. The others are Jack Sellers (Dist. 1), Steve Chucri (Dist. 2) and Chairman Clint Hickman (Dist. 4).

The first three will face Democratic challengers Jevin D. Hodge (Dist. 1), Deedra Abboud (Dist. 2) and Whitney Walker (Dist. 3) respectively, while Mr. Hickman will run unopposed to retain his seat in November.

County Sheriff race undecided

In one of the tightest and most contentious races in the Valley, former sheriff Joe Arpaio still seems to be falling short in his comeback bid for the county’s top-cop job, based on updated preliminary reporting from the County Recorder’s Office as of 5 p.m. on Thursday.

Jerry Sheridan — a 38-year Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office veteran and former Arpaio colleague — expanded his margin to lead the Republican primary pack with 149,958 out of 427,195 ballots counted for a 37% of the ballots cast.

Mr. Arpaio now trails by 4,090 votes, having received 145,868 for 36%; while third-place challenger Mike Crawford took 105,611 votes for 25%.

Whether Mr. Sheridan will retain his lead, or if that eventual lead will exceed that required to avoid a runoff, remains to be seen.

While acknowledging Mr. Sheridan’s lead, Mr. Arpaio said he’s optimistic about the outcome.

“I was looking forward to taking on [Sheriff Paul] Penzone for the third time,” Mr. Arpaio said. “I have a lot of support out there, regardless of the polls or whatever.”

Should he lose this race, Mr. Arpaio — now age 88 — did not commit to a future political run, but said he won’t be retiring from public life, either.

“As far as running again, I have a book coming out. I’ve been working on it for five months and it should be out in about three weeks,” he said.

In addition to the book, which he’d aimed to write before deciding to run for office again, he also is the subject of an upcoming documentary, he said.

“I’ve got a lot of things to do if I don’t win to keep moving along,” he added. “But I wanted to take that shot. I’ve been sheriff for 24 years, the longest in the history of Maricopa County, so I wanted to come back and straighten some things out. We’ll see if it’s going to happen.”

Regardless of the outcome, he said he is grateful for the support he received this year and throughout his career.

“My message is, thank you,” Mr. Arpaio said. “I want to thank the volunteers. I want to thank all of the supporters. I want to thank all the people that got out of their hot cars and came up to me and wanted my picture. I’ve always had support in my career.”

The eventual winner in the primary will face Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone, who ran unopposed in the Democratic primary, in November.

County Assessor

Incumbent Eddie Cook appears the likely winner in his Republican primary contest, leading challenger Rodney Glassman 53% to 47% after taking 190,987 votes out of 427,195 cast for a lead of more than 18,000 votes, based on preliminary results.

With the win, Mr. Cook will face Democrat Aaron Connor, who advances following an unopposed primary race, in which he garnered 335,757 votes.

Mr. Cook served on the Gilbert Town Council from 2011 to 2020 before being appointed to fill the assessor role by vote of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors in February.

He was appointed following the suspension and subsequent resignation of Paul Peterson, who pleaded guilty in June to charges of forgery and welfare fraud related to an alleged international adoption scheme that operated in Arizona, Utah and Arkansas.

Mr. Connor is a Phoenix resident, who has worked in the mortgage industry for 15 years, according to his campaign website.

County Attorney

Incumbent Allister Adel faced no Republican challenger in her primary bid and received 345,170 votes.

Ms. Adel was appointed by the Board of Supervisors in October 2019 to fill the position after previous county attorney, Bill Montgomery, was appointed to the Arizona Supreme Court by Gov. Doug Ducey in September.

Julie Gunnigle won the Democratic primary and advances to challenge Ms. Allister in November after taking 207,394 out of 391,969 votes for a 60% showing against Will Knight (22%) and Bob McWhirter (18%).

Ms. Gunnigle previously ran for one of two seats representing District 15 in the Arizona House of Representatives in 2018.

Advancing after getting 34.3% of the vote during the primary, she came in fourth in the general election with 21.1% as Republicans Nancy Barto and John Allen won with 29.1% and 27.9% of the vote respectively.

County Recorder

Democratic incumbent Adrian Fontes advances to the general election after taking 348,415 votes out of 391,969 cast in his uncontested primary race.

In November, Mr. Fontes will face off with Republican Stephen I. Richer, who defeated his primary opponent after getting 200,446 votes out of 427195 cast for 57%. Republican challenger Clair Van Steenwyk fell short with 43% support after receiving 148,304 votes.

Mr. Fontes took 50.1% of the vote in November 2016 to narrowly defeat Republican incumbent Helen Purcell (49.5%).

Mr. Richer, according to his campaign website, is an attorney and Phoenix resident, who claims no prior legislative races or experience.

County Treasurer

Republican primary challenger John Allen upset incumbent Royce T. Flora after taking 201,933 votes out of 427,195 cast for 57%. Mr. Royce received 150,564 votes for a 43% showing in the race.

Mr. Allen will face Daniel L. Toporek, who got 336,115 out of 391,969 votes cast in the Democratic primary.

Mr. Allen currently serves in the Arizona House, where he represents District 15. He was first elected to the seat in 2012 and did not seek reelection to that body this year because of term limit rules.

Mr. Toporek is a 34-year U.S. Marine Corps and Army combat veteran, who flew the AH-64 Apache attack helicopter and served as an aviation trainer for the National Guard, according to his campaign website.