Secretary of State Michele Reagan Ousted; Diane Douglas in Tight Race

Michele Reagan lost big Tuesday night.
Michele Reagan lost big Tuesday night. Gage Skidmore/Flickr

At least one incumbent has lost her job in Arizona's statewide primary races.

Insurgent conservative Steve Gaynor had a huge lead over Secretary of State Michele Reagan in early returns, leading the Associated Press to call the race for Gaynor.

A first-time candidate who owns a printing business, Gaynor assailed Reagan for her election missteps. Reagan's tenure has been rocky ever since she was elected in 2014. Apparently, Republican primary voters felt confident in Gaynor and his pitch to turn the secretary of state’s office around as if it were a business. He was leading with nearly 70 percent of the vote by the time the race was called.

Meanwhile, another vulnerable incumbent, Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas, trails two opponents: Bob Branch, an academic who teaches at Grand Canyon University, and Frank Riggs, a former California congressman.

Branch, Riggs, and Douglas are neck-and-neck for the lead, with less than 2,000  votes separating them based on unofficial results. However, the race remained too close to call around 9:15 p.m.

Gaynor, who considers himself a pro-Trump conservative, hit Reagan for administrative flubs. He points to the hours-long lines during the 2016 presidential primary as evidence of Reagan's incompetence, and her office's failure to mail over 200,000 information pamphlets during a special election the same year.

Gaynor also accused Reagan of being soft on voter fraud and of making it easier for undocumented immigrants to vote. His argument, which is somewhat complicated, stems from a consent decree Reagan agreed to earlier this summer in order to resolve a lawsuit.

The legal challenge targeted a 2004 ballot measure, Proposition 200, that required citizenship documents to register to vote in state elections in Arizona.

Reagan's consent decree allows people to register to vote for federal elections using a federal form, even if they can't provide proof of citizenship, according to the Arizona Capitol Times. She has dismissed Gaynor's accusation, calling his claim "ludicrous."

Gaynor will face State Senate Minority Leader Katie Hobbs. She was unopposed in the Democratic primary.

Douglas eked out a victory over Democrat David Garcia in 2014. Garcia won the Democratic nomination for governor Tuesday night.

On the Democratic side, first-time candidate Kathy Hoffman, a Peoria public school teacher, had a five-point lead over David Schapira, previously a city councilman in Tempe and state legislator.

One important question was whether #RedForEd teachers who want to see change at ADE would throw their votes behind Hoffman or Schapira.
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Joseph Flaherty is a staff writer at New Times. Originally from Wisconsin, he is a graduate of Middlebury College and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.
Contact: Joseph Flaherty