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Olson poised to take second Arizona Corporation Commission position

November 15, 2018

PHOENIX — Republican Justin Olson will be taking the second open spot on the Arizona Corporation Commission.

New vote tallies Wednesday evening put Olson 4,422 votes ahead of fellow Republican Rodney Glassman. And while there are more than 100,000 votes yet to be counted, Glassman told Capitol Media Services he had no reason to believe he could make up the difference.

“On election night I was 4,000 votes behind Justin,’’ he said.

“Ten days later I’m still about 4,000 votes behind,’’ Glassman continued. “I have no reason to believe that there’s going to be any substantial changes.’’

Glassman’s concession formally means that the commission, now an all-Republican affair, will have one Democrat. Sandra Kennedy, who had served on the commission between 2009 and 2012, was outpolling both of the Republicans.

In other results Wednesday, Democrat Katie Hobbs is making headway in her bid to be the next secretary of state, with her lead over Republican Steve Gaynor up by more than 1,000 from a day earlier. It now stands at 6,115 votes.

Hobbs is being propelled in part by the fact that voters in Maricopa County, where Republicans hold a voter-registration edge, were choosing her over the GOP nominee. As of Wednesday, Hobbs had a lead of more than 13,000 votes out of more than 1.3 million already counted in the state’s largest county.

She also picked up steam with another batch of votes from Coconino County where she is outpolling Gaynor by a margin of 2-1.

Gaynor has done better elsewhere.

Mohave County finished its vote counting on Wednesday, with 51,900 votes for Gaynor against just 18,774 for Hobbs.

In Navajo County, the final tally was closer, with Gaynor picking up 19,040 of the 35,970 votes cast there for that office.

But it’s not the votes that are already known that is keeping the ultimate outcome of the race in the air.

There also are about 19,400 ballots yet to be counted in Pima County. But election officials there have said they don’t intend to update their count until sometime Saturday.

Hobbs, currently a state senator from Phoenix, has been picking up close to three votes in that county for every two for Phoenix businessman Gaynor. But even assuming the remaining votes come in at the same rate -- meaning perhaps 11,400 for Hobbs versus 8,000 for Gaynor -- the ultimate outcome of the race rests with Maricopa County where Recorder Adrian Fontes said his office still has another 104,000 ballots to process.

To this point, the trend of early ballots now being counted from this county has broken in Hobbs favor, albeit just slightly. The latest tally has Hobbs picking up 50.5 percent of the votes tallied.

But at the processing rate of 20,000 a day, it could be days until either candidate has a sufficient margin to claim victory.

If Hobbs takes the office it will be the first time a Democrat has been in that position since Dick Mahoney, elected in 1990, left office four years later.

But it wasn’t always that Republicans had a lock on the office. In fact the post was occupied by Democrats from 1931 through Mahoney’s term, even through years when Arizona voters were electing Republicans as governor.

Wednesday’s numbers also keep incumbent state Sen. Kate Brophy McGee, R-Phoenix ahead of Democrat Christine Marsh, though the difference between them now is just 472.

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