ARIZONA NEWS

Democrat Kathy Hoffman takes lead in Arizona school superintendent race

Nov 8, 2018, 6:26 PM | Updated: 9:20 pm
(KTAR News Photos)...
(KTAR News Photos)
(KTAR News Photos)

PHOENIX – In an under-the-radar ongoing election battle in Arizona, Democrat Kathy Hoffman surged ahead of Republican Frank Riggs on Thursday in the superintendent of public instruction race.

Hoffman moved ahead by more than 20,000 votes after batches of votes heavily favoring Democrats were reported from Maricopa and Pima counties.

Riggs entered the day with an advantage of nearly 8,000 votes.

The race to lead the Arizona Department of Education has largely been overshadowed by the U.S. Senate race, which also swung toward the Democrats on Thursday as Kyrsten Sinema overtook Martha McSally.

However, around 345,000 votes still hadn’t been tabulated in Maricopa County, the largest county in the state. Several other counties still hadn’t completed their count, also.

One other statewide race still appears to be in play in the wake of Thursday’s results. Republican secretary of state candidate Steve Gaynor’s lead over Democrat Katie Hobbs was trimmed to less than 20,000 votes, down from around 44,000.

A victory by Hoffman over Riggs would be a major notch in the belt for the Red for Ed movement in what otherwise has been a disappointing election season.

The Democratic candidate for governor, education professor David Garcia, got steamrolled by double digits against incumbent Doug Ducey.

And a ballot initiative that would have raised taxes on high-income earners to fund education never made it in front of voters.

After supporters collected enough signatures for the Invest in Ed initiative, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled the wording of the measure wasn’t accurate on how it would impact taxpayers and kicked it off the ballot.

Meanwhile, the counting continued while a lawsuit over Tuesday’s election was playing out.

Republicans filed a lawsuit Wednesday night to challenge the way some Arizona counties count mail-in ballots.

About 75 percent of Arizona voters cast ballots by mail, but those ballots have to go through the laborious signature confirmation process, and only then can be opened and tabulated. If county recorders have issues verifying signatures they are allowed to ask voters to verify their identity.

The suit filed by four county Republican parties — Maricopa, Apache, Navajo and Yuma counties — alleges that the state’s 15 county recorders don’t follow a uniform standard for allowing voters to adjust problems with their mail-in ballots, and that two counties improperly allow those fixes after Election Day.

Lawyers for Maricopa County told a judge during a Thursday hearing that only a tiny percentage of the nearly 500,000 ballots they have yet to count could be affected by the lawsuit. A full hearing has been set for Friday afternoon.

In the meantime, a judge ruled that the counting could continue.

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Rep.-elect Greg Stanton, D-Ariz., celebrates his win at an election night gathering for Democrats Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, in Phoenix. Stanton defeated Republican Steve Ferrara in Arizona's 9th Congressional District. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, R, speaks to supporters, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, at an election night party in Scottsdale, Ariz. Incumbent Ducey defeated democratic challenger David Garcia for his second term. (AP Photo/Matt York) Republican Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, R, embraces Cindy McCain, wife of the late U.S. Sen. John McCain, while speaking to supporters, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, at an election night party in Scottsdale, Ariz. Incumbent Ducey defeated Democratic challenger David Garcia for his second term. (AP Photo/Matt York) U.S. Rep. David Schweikert, R-Ariz., holds his daughter Olivia as he speaks to supporters, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, at an election night party in Scottsdale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York) (KTAR News/Jim Cross) (KTAR News/Jim Cross) (KTAR News/Jim Cross) (KTAR News/Kathy Cline) (KTAR News/Kathy Cline) (KTAR News/Kathy Cline) (KTAR News/Griselda Zetino) (KTAR News/Griselda Zetino) (KTAR News/Griselda Zetino) (KTAR News/Griselda Zetino) An elections official counts ballots at the Tabulation and Election Center, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Arizona Republican senatorial candidate Martha McSally, speaks with voters, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, at Chase's diner in Chandler, Ariz. McSally and Democratic challenger Kirsten Sinema are seeking the senate seat being vacated by Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., who is retiring in January. (AP Photo/Matt York) Voters wait in line to cast their ballots at a relocated polling station, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018 in Chandler, Ariz. The new polling station opened four hours late after the original location did not open due to the buildings' foreclosure overnight. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

A volunteer moves supplies to a relocated polling station, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018 in Chandler, Ariz. The new polling station opened four hours late after the original location did not open due to the buildings' foreclosure overnight. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

A notice sign is seen at a polling station, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018 in Chandler, Ariz. A new polling station opened four hours late after the original location did not open due to the buildings' foreclosure overnight. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Marcicopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes holds an Election Day press conference, Nov. 6, 2018. (KTAR Photo/Ali Vetnar) Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, R, arrives to cast his ballot early Tuesday, Nov 6, 2018 in Paradise Valley, Ariz. Ducey is seeking re-election against Democratic challenger David Garcia. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri) Arizona Democratic gubernatorial candidate David Garcia serves coffee at a local cafe, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, in Phoenix. Garcia is challenging Republican incumbent Gov. Doug Ducey. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Voters head into Burton Barr Central Library in Phoenix to cast their ballots on Nov. 6, 2018. (KTAR News Photo/Jim Cross) Maricopa County elections official Deborah Atkins places a "vote" sign outside a polling station prior to it's opening, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York) Maricopa County elections official Deborah Atkins hangs "vote" signs outside a polling station prior to it's opening, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)

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Democrat Kathy Hoffman takes lead in Arizona school superintendent race