I reported yesterday that after a set of hard fought races in Arizona, Tea Party Republicans logged major wins. This included another four years for Joe Arpaio, the firebrand sheriff of Maricopa County who’s made a career in harassing immigrants and treating prisoners like livestock. He was reported to have beat Democrat Paul Penzone by nearly 90,000 votes.
Based on initial results, I also reported a loss for Richard Carmona, a Democrat who ran on an anti-SB 1070 platform against Republican Jeff Flake.
Now, advocates and alternative media in Arizona are questioning these results. They say hundreds of thousands of provisional and early votes have yet to be counted.
The Latino advocacy group Presente.org sent out a petition today calling for all the votes to be counted. The petition reads, "Arpaio is leading by 90,000 votes but there are over 300,000 ballots that haven’t been counted yet–likely most are from Latino neighborhoods!"
Arizona Latinos voted early more than twice the rate they did in 2008, the NY Times reports.
Arpaio’s critics, among them Unite Here, Promise Arizona and Citizens for a Better Arizona (CBA) – groups that were behind a get-out-the-vote effort — expressed concerns over a large number of provisional ballots that were cast.
"We’re focused on the people that were not allowed to vote. We’re concerned about how the county recorders run the election," said Randy Parraz, co-founder of CBA. "There were people that were not allowed to vote at all."
Brendan Walsh, political director with Unite Here echoed those concerns.
"We were finding that people went to the polls and were being asked to cast provisional ballots," said Walsh, when they should have received the ballot in the mail.
The Phoenix New Times reports that a reversal is unlikely in the sheriff’s race.
The gap between Penzone and Arpaio may narow, but is likely too deep of a hole to dig out of.
The county counted more than 44,000 ballots yesterday, but the numbers in the Penzone-Arpaio race have not budged by much. Currently the spread there is 9.48 percentage points.
But, the New Times reports:
It’s a different story when it comes to the Rich Carmona v. Jeff Flake U.S. Senate contest, where Flake is up by a mere 79,867 votes, or 4.8 percent.
Republican golden-boy Flake must be sweating big ol’ bullets right now. Yesterday, the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office announced that there are more than 600,000 provisional and early ballots remaining statewide to be counted. According to one of the savviest political experts I know, Democrat and former legislator John Loredo, Carmona could make up that gap with that’s left to count, especially considering that many of the "late" ballots turned in at the polls will tend to be Democratic.
We’ll keep watching Arizona and send updates.
Meanwhile in Arizona, as I reported yesterday, the state’s legislature remains solidly in Republican hands. The GOP hold, however, is a little less secure. Republicans in the Arizona legislature, which has long been a testing ground for far-right policies, no longer have a super majority after Democrats picked up four seats in the Senate and a few in the House as well.
To be sure, Republicans remain in charge in Arizona and will for at least another two years, but the Democrats small legislative gains do indicate a shifting landscape.