Andrew Thomas Repels More Republican Voters Than Sheriff or County Recorder

By Ray Stern

Nearly 18 percent of Republican voters in Tuesday's primary election chose to vote for nobody instead of incumbent Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas.

Such "undervotes" always turn up in races with just one name on the ballot, but not in the same quantity. In this case, a comparison of undervotes shows the same trend revealed by political surveys: Thomas just isn't as popular as his political partner, Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

Arpaio, who also had no competition in the primary, received 26,692 undervotes out of a total 188,499 Republican ballots cast, or slightly more than 14 percent.

In contrast, 33,062 Republicans failed to vote for Thomas, says Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell (pictured above).

Interestingly, Purcell had the fewest undervotes of the three -- about 24,000, or 12 percent of the Republican ballots cast. That implies that Purcell, the recorder since 1988, is even more popular in Maricopa County than Arpaio.

Arpaio was grumbling about the situation last night, though with tongue firmly in cheek, Purcell says.

"I teased him about that, yes," Purcell says. "He's not happy about that."

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.