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Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich enjoys comfortable lead

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich (Flickr/Gage Skidmore)

PHOENIX — Republican Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich appears to have a comfortable advantage over Democratic challenger January Contreras in his Nov. 6 bid for re-election.

Recent public polls show a double-digit lead for Brnovich, who has emphasized his office’s prosecution of “would-be terrorists” and people accused of sex crimes against children. But Brnovich has been criticized for including Arizona in a national legal battle to repeal part of the Affordable Care Act and Contreras has accused him of partisanship.

Contreras, meanwhile, has been the target of attack ads by a Washington-based group called Arizona for Freedom over patient neglect a decade ago at an Arizona state nursing home for elderly veterans. Contreras at the time was health policy adviser for then-Gov. Janet Napolitano.

Contreras said the home had complaints about care issues under several different governors and that when she was Napolitano’s adviser the team conducted an investigation and made necessary corrections.

Brnovich has led Contreras in fundraising and expenditures, collecting over $900,000 and spending more than two-thirds, according to recent secretary of state records. Contreras has raised nearly $720,000 and spent less than half.

Brnovich is a longtime county and state prosecutor who was elected to the attorney general post in November 2014. As attorney general, he has focused on consumer protection and advocacy as well as the opioid epidemic, charging a big drug manufacturer with deceptive practices.

Brnovich worked as a prosecutor in the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office in the gang and repeat offender unit and prosecuted many high profile cases from 1992-1998. He also worked for the Arizona Attorney General’s Office from 1998-2003, and represented the Arizona Department of Gambling, where he developed an expertise in gambling law and learned about Native American culture.

Contreras is a fourth-generation Arizona resident who grew up in the Phoenix area as the daughter of postal workers. She was a county and state prosecutor, prosecuting fraud and abuse in the health care system, before founding a not-for-profit legal aid organization for women and children, Arizona Legal Women and Youth Services.

Contreras is also a former director of the Arizona Department of Health Services and served on the White House Council on Women and Girls during President Barack Obama’s administration. Former Vice President Joe Biden is among high-profile Democrats who have endorsed her.

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