Please see updates and Horne's concession statement at the end of this post.
Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne stubbornly refused to concede as his Republican primary foil, former state gaming director Mark Brnovich, did a victory lap Tuesday night at the Hyatt in downtown Phoenix, where GOPers gathered to watch returns roll in.
Brnovich opened up an early lead against incumbent Horne after the polls closed and never let go as the evening wore on.
By early today, with 1,519 of 1,566 precincts reporting statewide, Brnovich was besting Horne by six percentage points, 53 percent to 47 percent, according to the Arizona Secretary of State's website.
Though Horne did well in Pima County, he was overwhelmed in vote-rich Maricopa County, losing to Brnovich by 10 fat percentage points.
Brnovich's people had told me earlier in the evening that if their man was up by six points or more in Maricopa County, Brnovich would take the race.
Watching the returns in the Hyatt's ballroom, GOP consultant Nathan Sproul declared Horne dead in the water as the early ballots were reported, and Brnovich put space between himself and the AG.
Governor Jan Brewer, who had endorsed Brnovich against scandal magnet Horne, announced Brnovich as part of the GOP's team of statewide nominees, including Michele Reagan for Secretary of State and former ice cream peddler Doug Ducey for governor.
Brnovich took the stage with the other winners and spoke after Reagan and Ducey, thanking Brewer and his wife, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Susan Brnovich, for their support.
The wannabe AG will face off in the general election against Democrat Felecia Rotellini, who did not have a primary opponent.
Rotellini enters the general election with a thick campaign wallet (around $1 million) and beaucoup name recognition from her 2010 run against Horne in the general, where she was bested by a mere 60,000 votes.
Horne seemed to be holding out for a grueling, vote-for-vote battle like his legendary donnybrook with now-disbarred, ex-county attorney Andrew Thomas in the 2010 Republican primary.
But Horne should can that pipe dream. He's out of cash, facing a possible $1.2 million fine in the campaign-finance case against him, investigations by multiple agencies, and the serious possibility that he could be indicted before leaving office by a state grand jury.
I'll have more to say on Horne's downfall later. Suffice it to say that it is entirely of Horne's making.
Update August 27, 2014, 10:45 a.m.
You know the old saw about denial's not being just a river in Egypt. Well, Horne is still going against the river's flow, and has not conceded as of 10:45 AM, though an announcement is surely being penned as I type.
With almost all precincts reporting, Brnovich has has maintained his 53 to 47 percent lead over the AG. Stick a pitchfork in Tom. It's all over save for an indictment.
Update August 27, 2014, 11:47 a.m.:
Horne has conceded, finally.
Declining all interview requests, the AG issued the following statement:
"I have just called Mark Brnovich to congratulate him on his victory in the Republican primary. His supporters and campaign deserve congratulations as well.
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Mark has a tough race ahead, and I wish him the best and off my full support in the months to come.
It has been my sincere honor to serve the people of Arizona."
On that last point, Tom, the feeling is most definitely not mutual.
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