COOLIDGE — In a race that has been all over the place since numbers were first posted on election night, Republican perennial candidate Kevin Cavanaugh has taken a surprising lead over longtime incumbent Democrat Pete Rios for Pinal County Board of Supervisors District 1 seat.
Rios was well ahead for all of Tuesday night, and he expressed confidence to PinalCentral that this trend would continue. But a post-midnight update single-handedly brought Cavanaugh within 53 votes. A Thursday update put Cavanaugh ahead, and his lead extended Friday to the point where he is now up 130 votes.
According to Pinal County Elections, there are now 27,000 early ballots that were dropped off at the polls on Election Day still to be counted. After one or two updates planned for Saturday, the department expects to be done counting those on Monday. Then there are about 1,800 provisional ballots to be tabulated, and the department expects to be done with those by Tuesday.
This race has included plenty of controversy, as Cavanaugh mailed a postcard of Rios’ primary opponent Ruben Leos supposedly endorsing Cavanaugh, despite Leos having never been involved with him.
Now, Cavanaugh is claiming the Pinal County Recorder’s Office sent him improper data that hindered his ability to target high-propensity voters. He said if the office knowingly did this, it would constitute “election meddling.”
This isn’t the only close race in Pinal County.
Perhaps the biggest nail-biter is coming out of Florence, where incumbent Mayor Tara Walter is holding onto the slimmest of leads for reelection. As of Friday’s update, she is leading former Councilman Kyle Larsen by only seven votes, though that is two votes better than where she was on Thursday.
Under election statutes, a local race goes into an automatic recall if the margin between two candidates is 10 or less, meaning this race might be headed in that direction.
Florence’s Town Council race for two seats is starting to see a little bit of separation after a chaotic election night where Arther “Snake” Neal jumped from third to first after midnight. Neal now leads Johnie Mendoza by 35 votes, and both would currently get seats on the council. Bill Tanner trails Mendoza by 48 votes.
Over in Maricopa, there was a flip on Friday, as newcomer Tracie Armstead-Payton took a 31-vote lead over appointee Jim Jordan for the third and final seat on the Maricopa Unified School District Governing Board. Incumbents Torri Anderson and AnnaMarie Knorr are well ahead for the first two seats.
This race has been back and forth since election night. Armstead-Payton had a decent lead over Jordan for all of Tuesday night, but the post-midnight results update put Jordan ahead by only three votes. He extended that lead to 10 on Thursday, but now it has flipped back to Armstead-Payton.
In Eloy, the hopes for the Santa Cruz Valley Union High School District’s budget override appear to be all but dashed as the “yes” votes fall further behind. The “no” side now leads by 78.