COOLIDGE — Much of Pinal County will continue to have the same representative in the House, while its Board of Supervisors will have a much different look than expected.
Following the latest results from Monday, Pinal County Elections announced it only had a “handful” of provisional ballots left to be counted. Once they are approved and sent over by the Recorder’s Office, they will be counted and there will be another update Tuesday.
The votes were enough for Rep. Tom O’Halleran, D-Sedona, to declare victory in the race for the Congressional District 1 seat, which he has represented since 2017. His lead over Eloy Republican Tiffany Shedd has held steady in recent days, and he now has 51.7% of the vote.
“I am truly overwhelmed by the passionate support my campaign received this year from voters and volunteers of all political parties,” O’Halleran said in a written statement. “I want to thank the hardworking Arizonans that engaged with voters during these stressful and unprecedented times.”
Shedd fared better than the other two Republicans who have run against O’Halleran. In 2018, Wendy Rogers managed to get 46.1% of the vote, while in 2016, former Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu was largely abandoned by the Republican Party and only received 43.4%.
The most surprising result in Pinal County came in the race for Board of Supervisors in District 1, where 12-year incumbent and longtime Democratic politician Pete Rios lost his election night lead to Republican perennial candidate Kevin Cavanaugh and never took it back.
Rios conceded the race Monday, congratulating Cavanaugh on his lead, which is now more than 400 votes.
“I never got to meet Mr. Cavanaugh or debate him, but he got more votes, and that is how democracy works,” Rios said.
Though he is uncertain what will come next for him after he vacates his seat on the Board of Supervisors, Rios said the defeat is likely not the end of his 40-year career in public office.
For now, however, he said he plans to “wait and see.”
“The only thing I would say to my constituents is that I hope Mr. Cavanaugh takes their concerns and interests as much to heart as I did for 12 years,” he said.
In other Pinal County election results:
- Florence Mayor Tara Walter gained some breathing room the past couple of days in her hopes of serving another term. As late as Saturday, the incumbent was up by only five votes over challenger Kyle Larsen. However, that lead has since grown to 40 votes, which is outside the 10-vote threshold that would require an automatic recount.
- For the third time this week, the third place spot in the race for Maricopa Unified School District Governing Board has flipped. This is significant as that represents the final seat available for the next term. Appointed incumbent Jim Jordan took the lead from newcomer Tracie Armstead-Payton very late on election night and held it until Friday, when Armstead-Payton took the lead. Then on Sunday, Jordan once again took the lead, and now has only 14 more, meaning a recount is still possible.
- A reelected legislator representing southern Pinal County is now in effect the vice president of the state Senate. Arizona Senate President Karen Fann announced Monday that Vince Leach, R-Saddlebrooke, will be the next Senate president pro tempore, which means he will work closely with Fann and oversee the Senate in her absence.