By Ray Stern
Democrat Tim Nelson was making a strong showing in early returns, but his Republican opponent, Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas, bounded to a respectable lead as polling station results came in about 8:15 p.m.
Thomas had 53.01 percent of votes compared with Nelson's 43.1 percent, with 32 percent of precincts reporting.
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Nelson supporters had a modicum of hope as votes started to trickle in, because they felt a big turnout by Democrats might push him over the edge. But when the first official polling station totals were announced, Thomas kept his lead.
Senator John McCain was in no danger of embarrassment in his home county, based on early returns. He had 55 percent of the vote to Barack Obama's 43 percent. Statewide, national poll watchers had the race too close to call.
And Sheriff Joe Arpaio had no worries after the first round of results, beating Dan Saban with 57.49 percent to 40.17 percent
In an interview at election headquarters at the Phoenix Convention Center, Arpaio told reporters he would continue all of his policies and "would not change a thing." Arpaio, 76, also vowed, "This is not my last campaign."