Some Maricopa County races narrow, flip as counting continues

After several dozen supporters of President Trump went to the Maricopa County Tabulation and Election Center on Wednesday night, demanding to be let inside and asking to speak to County Recorder Adrian Fontes, workers erected fences in anticipation of more protests as counting continues. (Photo by Franco LaTona/Cronkite News)

PHOENIX – As ballots continue to be counted in Maricopa County, some of the races for countywide officials now hang in the balance. Elections officials on Thursday said they still have to process hundreds of thousands of ballots.

The latest results show the early leads for some Democrats have disappeared. Republicans have overtaken Democrats in the races for county attorney, treasurer and assessor, according to unofficial results early Thursday from the County Recorder’s Office.

But some races remain tight.

In the county attorney race, Republican incumbent Allister Adel held a small lead over challenger Julie Gunnigle. But there’s only a difference of about 4,000 votes, according to the latest numbers released shortly after midnight.

Before the latest tallies were released, Gunnigle had the lead.

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County Recorder Adrian Fontes told KTAR the county had about 300,000 outstanding ballots on Thursday. Officials plan to release another count at 7 p.m., and they may update again at 9 a.m. Friday, Fontes said.

Adel and her team have not released a statement on Twitter since they announced Tuesday night she had undergone emergency surgery for “bleeding to the brain.” Adel’s campaign spokesperson had earlier described her condition as “serious but stable,” but there has been no update as of 3:30 p.m. Thursday.

In the treasurer’s race, Republican John Allen led his Democratic opponent Daniel Toporek on Thursday. There was a wider gap in this race, with a difference of about 45,000 votes, according to the latest numbers.

In the assessor’s race, Republican incumbent Eddie Cook was leading Democratic challenger Aaron Connor. The gap was nearly 47,000 votes Thursday.

Democrats continued to hold leads in the races for county recorder, school superintendent and sheriff.

Democrat incumbent Paul Penzone on Wednesday night thanked his supporters and family, but he has not claimed victory in the sheriff’s race over challenger Jerry Sheridan.

In a tweet, he said Wednesday night’s ballot tally “confirms the strong lead we’ve been maintaining over my opponent. While our race has yet to be called, I urge everyone to respect the process.”

Fontes, who ran against Republican Stephen Richer, also has a solid lead in the county recorder’s race.

In the Maricopa County school superintendent race, Democrat Jeanne Casteen leads incumbent Republican Steve Watson by about 18,000 votes, according to the latest numbers.

All the results are an unofficial tally. Like most states, Arizona typically does not certify election results until weeks after the election.

Voters also voted on Maricopa County supervisors, whose offices are broken down into five districts. The tightest race is District 3, which includes Anthem, New River and Paradise Valley, where Democrat Whitney Walker had a lead against incumbent Bill Gates. As of Thursday, only about 3,000 votes divided them.

On Wednesday, Fontes retweeted comments from Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey that emphasized the importance of counting all ballots and having patience. On Election Day, Ducey tweeted “let’s count the votes – all the votes – before making declarations.” Fontes retweeted with a simple: “Amen.”

Sports Reporter, Phoenix

Christopher Howley expects to graduate in December 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in sports journalism. He is a digital reporter for Cronkite Sports and has worked as a sustainability reporter.