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Allister Adel Leads Maricopa County Attorney Race, but Still Hospitalized After Fall

Democrat Julie Gunnigle (left) is trailing Republican Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel by about 20,000 votes.
Democrat Julie Gunnigle (left) is trailing Republican Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel by about 20,000 votes.
Allister Adel's reelection campaign & Ash Ponders

After coming up short on election night, Republican incumbent Allister Adel is now leading the race for Maricopa County Attorney by around 20,000 votes. She's also been hospitalized since election night due to "bleeding in her brain" following a fall at home, according to her office.

Little information has been since been released about the condition of Adel, who is married with two young boys.

It's also unclear when she will be able to resume her duties as the county's chief prosecutor. Jennifer Liewer, a spokesperson for the Maricopa County Attorney's Office, did not respond to New Times' questions about any timeline for Adel's return to work.

On Tuesday evening, the first vote tallies in Maricopa County, which skewed heavily for Democrats, put Adel's Democratic challenger Julie Gunnigle, ahead by almost 61,000 votes. Hours later, at 10:42 p.m., the Maricopa County Attorney's Office announced that Adel has been "admitted to the hospital for a health emergency" and that the situation was "fluid."

The next morning, another update was issued: Adel had undergone "emergency surgery for bleeding to the brain" and she was in "serious but stable condition."

That evening, Adel gained significant ground on Gunnigle in the next ballot drop, trimming the Democrat's lead to around 7,000 votes. And in another dump of ballots released just after midnight, Adel overtook Gunnigle by a little over 4,100 votes. Adel continued to increase her margin on Thursday. Another ballot drop on Friday morning gave her a commanding lead of 20,000 votes.

The Maricopa County Attorney's Office issued no updates until Friday afternoon, when they released vague details about what happened to Adel and her health situation.

"Recently, Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel fell at home and hit her head. On Tuesday night, her condition worsened and she was transported to a valley hospital where they performed emergency surgery to address bleeding in her brain," Liewer said in a statement. "She is currently hospitalized in serious but stable condition and responding well to medical treatment. The team Allister put into place over the past year continues to move forward with the important work of the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office."

Liewer did not respond to New Times' questions about the circumstances of the fall, when the fall occurred, and which staffer is currently in charge of the Maricopa County Attorney's Office during Adel's absence.

Gunnigle' campaign has been mostly silent as well. After the initial news of Adel's hospitalization broke, Gunnigle wrote on Twitter, "My thoughts are with Allister and her family. We should give them privacy in this moment and we wish for a full recovery." Tom Williams, Gunnigle's campaign manager, did not respond to requests for comment on Adel's current sizable lead.

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Adel's medical condition and hospitalization also raises the question of what would happen if she eventually won her reelection bid but wasn't able to resume her duties as County Attorney.

If Adel were unable to return to work, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, which has five elected members, would appoint a replacement, according to Fields Moseley, a county spokesperson. That replacement would also have to be a Republican, assuming that Adel, a Republican, wins reelection.

Adel got her job through an appointment last year: Her predecessor, Bill Montgomery, took a seat on the state Supreme Court, leading the Board of Supervisors to select Adel as county attorney from a list of five candidates.

Another ballot drop in Maricopa County is expected at 7 p.m. this evening.

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