Mesnard surviving, Sellers trailing in unofficial results SanTan Sun News

Mesnard surviving, Sellers trailing in unofficial results

November 5th, 2020 Editorial Staff
Mesnard surviving, Sellers trailing in unofficial results
Politics
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By PAUL MARYNIAK
Executive Editor

The blue wave that gave Arizona its second Democrat in the U.S. Senate may have nearly cost a longtime Chandler legislator his seat and apparently dashed the hopes of another local politician for a full term on the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors.
Although at the SanTan Sun News deadline thousands of ballots remained to be counted, the latest unofficial results of Tuesday’s election showed south Chandler Sen. J.D. Mesnard barely escaping an aggressive challenge from Democrat Ajlan AJ Kurdoglu in Legislative District 17.
LD 17, which covers south Chandler, Sun Lakes and part of Gilbert, also saw incumbent Democrat Jennifer Pawlik take a commanding lead in a three-way race for two House seats.
Incumbent Republican Rep. Jeff Weninger held a slim lead for the other House seat over Republican challenger and Chandler Realtor Liz Harris.
The unofficial results also showed that former Chandler City Council member and incumbent Supervisor Jack Sellers losing to Democrat Jevin Hodge in a stunning result in the heavily Republican County District 1 race.
In the Chandler Unified Governing Board race, the three candidates on the ballot – incumbent Barb Mozdzen and newcomers Joel Wirth and Jason Olive – appeared to be shoe-ins despite a late write-in campaign by former CUSD teacher Sharon Tuttle. No results were provided for Tuttle.
Mesnard, who began building a comfortable lead late Wednesday with 51 percent of the vote, or 58,520, to Kurdoglu’s 49 percent, or 55,132, had been the target of the most expensive legislative race statewide when spending totaling $2.7 million by independent organizations is factored in.
The latest filings with the Arizona Secretary of State showed organizations, many from outside Arizona, spent a whopping $1.33 million advocating for his defeat and another $616,572 advocating his reelection to a second term.
Other groups spent another 410,473 advocating against Kurdoglu and $318,550 for him.
That’s on top of at least $288,682 Kurdoglu spent from a war chest totaling $401,484 and the $152,586 Mesnard spent from his $249,758 in donations to his campaign.
Mesnard’s apparent victory helped Republicans likely keep control of the Arizona Legislature, although races in some legislative districts appeared on Thursday to be too close to call.
That was not the case in the two legislative districts that include Chandler, however.
In Mesnard’s district, LD17, Rep. Jennifer Pawlink, the only Democrat in the race for two House seats, continued demonstrating a broad appeal to voters by topping her Republican rivals.
Pawlik garnered 35 percent of the vote to Rep. Jeff Weninger’s 33 percent and Realtor Liz Harris’ 32 percent.
The other Chandler district, LD18, remains solidly blue. In an all-Ahwatukee race for the Senate seat, Sen. Sean Bowie easily defeated Realtor Suzanne Sharer with 59 percent of the vote to 41 percent, unofficial results show, while Reps. Jennifer Jermaine of Chandler and Mitzi Epstein of Tempe drew 30 percent and 29 percent, respectively, to Republican challengers Bob Robson’s 22 percent and Don Hawker’s 20 percent.
Robson, who had been a Chandler Council member for eight years and Chandler’s legislative representative for another eight before he lost in 2016, had hoped to return to his old stomping grounds. Robson, who now lives in Ahwatukee, targeted Epstein in debates and had won the endorsement of the Chandler, Tempe and Mesa chambers of commerce.
While the Legislature appeared likely to be held by Republicans, the same cannot be said about the GOP’s control of county seats and the Board of Supervisors.
While former Gilbert Council member Eddie Cooke, a Republican, appeared likely to win election to a four-year term as County Assessor and incumbent Republican County Attorney Allister Adel had gained a lead Thursday over Democrat Julie Gunnigle, Democrats appeared to have taken all other county offices.
That includes three seats on the five-member Board of Supervisors, where both Sellers and Bill Gates appeared to have lost.
Both Sellers and Cooke had been appointed to their respective offices when their predecessors resigned.
In District 1, Republicans hold a strong edge with 199,999 registered voters compared to 176,000 registered Democrats. There also are 182,000 independent voters.
But Sellers lost the money game in the race.
Sellers raised $132,745 and spent $102,362 while Hodge raised $250,987 and spent $222,740.
Sellers in unofficial results was trailing Hodge with 49 percent of the vote to his challenger’s 51 percent, or 187,632 to 178,306.
Hodge was already declaring victory on Wednesday even though about 30 percent of the votes in District 1 remained to be counted.
If his lead holds, he will be celebrating with his mother, Tempe Union High School District Governing Board President Berdetta Hodge, who appeared on her way to a second term after outpolling eight candidates in a race for three board seats.
Jevin Hodge is national engagement director of LINK Strategic Partners, a business, nonprofit and government consulting firm in Washington, D.C.
His website describes his job as working “with community partners to maximize impact by governments, non-profits, and businesses hosting major events around the US and abroad.”
His apparent victory makes him Maricopa County’s first African-American supervisor.
It also may end a long political career for Sellers, who was on Chandler City Council for eight years, the State Transportation Board for six. He was appointed to the Board of Supervisors in January 2019 to replace Denny Barney, who resigned to become president/CEO of the Phoenix East Valley Partnership.
In other races involving Chandler, the Maricopa County Community College District Governing Board seat that includes the city saw Gilbert Republican Councilman Laurin Hendrix lose his bid for another term to Arizona State University vice President Jacqueline Harris, who got 56 percent of the vote to Hendrix’s 44 percent.
An at-large seat for that same governing board apparently is going to incumbent Dr. Linda Thor, former longtime president of Rio Salado College. She garnered 64 percent of the vote to 34 percent for challenger Shelli Boggs of Queen Creek.

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