Maricopa County Assessor Keith Russell was cruising toward victory Tuesday night over the man he beat for the job four years ago, Kevin Ross, according to the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office.
With nearly 95 percent of precincts reporting, Russell held a nearly insurmountable 10,000-vote lead over Ross, who was attempting a political comeback after losing badly in 2004 when he ran under the shadow of several felony indictments.
“It’s good to see the support from the public for all the hard work we do,” Russell said Tuesday night. “I wish Mr. Ross the very best and look forward to another four years.”
Ross could not be reached Tuesday night for comment.
The race will most likely determine who will be the county assessor for the next four years because there is one write-in candidate and no Democratic challenger running in November.
Four years ago, Ross was running for a third term as county assessor when he was indicted on three felony counts.
He ultimately beat the charges, but not before being soundly defeated by Russell in the GOP primary.
Ross, who held the office from 1997 to 2005, later accused Russell of coordinating his downfall in an $8 million civil claim that also alleged Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard used false testimony and withheld evidence in order to get the indictments.
Russell was named in that legal action because he met with two of the prosecution’s chief witnesses during the attorney general’s investigation. Russell, an unknown in county political circles at the time, declared his candidacy shortly before the indictments were announced.
Russell said he never conspired to bring Ross down and only briefly met with the two witnesses — who have since left the office.
Ross insists this year’s political rematch is not about personal payback.
The assessor’s race typically draws little attention, especially in the primary. However, the office itself carries a big responsibility. The assessor lists, classifies and sets the value of all properties in the county for taxing purposes.
Besides the assessor’s contest, there were numerous other candidates running in uncontested primaries Tuesday night.
Sheriff Joe Arpaio was uncontested in the Republican primary. He will face Dan Saban, the lone Democrat running for sheriff.
County Supervisors Fulton Brock, R-District 1, and Don Stapley, R-District 2, each have held their seats for more than a decade. Both Republicans ran unopposed, but will face Democratic challengers in November. Ed Hermes and Joel Sinclaire also ran unopposed in the Democratic primaries for the county seats.
Hermes will challenge Brock in District 1, which covers Tempe, Chandler and Queen Creek. Although he’s never run for office, Hermes has raised more than $90,000 to wage his campaign, according to county finance reports. Brock has raised about $120,000 for this year’s political battle; about half of that was carried over from previous campaigns. Sinclaire will attempt to unseat Stapley in District 2, which covers Mesa, Gilbert and Scottsdale.
Sinclaire has raised about $8,300, while Stapley, who has held the post since 1994, has raised about $88,000, according to campaign finance reports.
County Recorder Helen Purcell, a Republican, also ran unopposed and is expected to take on Ernest Hancock, a Libertarian, in November.