Allister Adel's campaign declared victory on Monday in the close race for Maricopa County Attorney, but it remains unclear whether Adel knows about her victory.
The 43-year-old prosecuting attorney, who was appointed to her post in October after the resignation of Bill Montgomery, has not given a public statement since news broke on Election Day that she'd been hospitalized with bleeding in the brain.
"We are humbled and incredibly grateful to the voters of Maricopa County for electing Allister Adel as county attorney," said her campaign spokesperson, Lorna Romero, on Monday afternoon in what the campaign called a "victory statement."
Adel led her Democratic opponent, Julie Gunnigle, 51-49 on Monday, a comfortable 35,000 votes ahead. Romero didn't immediately return a call seeking comment about Adel.
"Thank you to the many volunteers and supporters who spent countless days and hours sharing Allister's vision with voters. This was truly a team effort and we could not have done it without everyone involved," Romero said in the statement. "Allister has focused on creating a culture driven by ethical excellence and making the right decisions for the right reasons each day, but there is more work to be done. We must remain vigilant to ensure each person is treated fairly and equally in our criminal justice system, and that we are holding criminals accountable."
In a concession statement written on Monday as a long tweet thread, Gunnigle expressed sympathy for Adel's family, thanked her staff, and took some final swipes at Adel's office.
"I am conceding this race but we are not conceding on our values," she tweeted. "This office continues to perpetuate some of the worst racial disparities in policing and prosecution in the country."
The race between the two women had presented county voters with a striking choice between a moderate Republican who seemed to be willing to acknowledge problems in the justice system, and a progressive who vowed to make significant, sweeping reforms to help marginalized communities. Activists who sought change — and Republicans who didn't — watched the campaigns closely in the months before the election.
Early election returns on November 3 showed Adel trailing Gunnigle. Then came the news from Adel's campaign that she had been taken in for emergency brain surgery. The county attorney's office later said her condition stemmed from a fall at home.
Romero's campaign statement gave no indication that Adel is aware of the election results.
"We want to express our sincere gratitude for the outpouring of support during this difficult time," Romero wrote. "During a week where so many have disagreed, we appreciate that so many came together to offer support for Allister. We are thankful for the privacy you have provided our family during this time and appreciate your continued patience as we navigate Allister’s recovery."
The accident resulted from a "mundane" fall before the election, said Jennifer Liewer, spokesperson for Adel's office.
"Allister got up in the middle of the night to go to the restroom, tripped on something in the bedroom, and hit her head on a piece of furniture in the dark," Liewer said. Days later, "the bleed progressed and became an emergency situation" on Election Day.
"She's stable," Liewer said. "She's responding ... to the treatment that they're giving her."
Asked if that meant Adel had recovered consciousness since her surgery, Liewer said the family would have to answer medical questions. Liewer said she hasn't talked to Adel since the surgery, but that's not necessarily surprising considering Adel had "major brain surgery six days ago."
"They are optimistic," Liewer said.
Liewer also could not say when Adel might return to work. The office would have to see a statement from the family's physician to comment on that, she said.
Adel is married with two school-age boys.
"It was a shock to everyone," Liewer said of Adel's hospitalization.
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.