September 7, 2004
Incumbent Kris Mayes, a former close aide to Democratic Gov. Janet Napolitano, appeared headed for victory over challenger Carl Seel in the Republican primary for a two-year seat on the Arizona Corporation Commission Tuesday night.
With most of the precincts reporting, Mayes had more than 60 percent of the votes.
The winner of the GOP primary is virtually assured of election in November to fill out the last two years of the unexpired term of former commissioner Jim Irvin, who resigned last September under an ethical cloud.
No Democrats are running for the seat, but two Libertarians, Rick Fowlkes of Mesa and Zelig Hess of Glendale, declared as write-in candidates in hopes of winning enough votes to qualify for the November general election ballot.
Write-in votes must be counted by hand, and final results may take five days to determine, according to the Arizona Secretary of State's office.
Mayes, 32, a former newspaper reporter who was Napolitano's press aide, was appointed by the governor to the regulatory commission after Irvin resigned. Under state election law, Mayes was required to run for the office to fill out Irvin's term.
During the campaign, Seel, 35, and Mayes squared off over numerous issues including the use of solar power, nuclear energy, electric deregulation and even abortion.
Three other commission seats, each carrying four-year terms, are also up for grabs, but none were contested in Tuesday's primary.
Mayes said she was not surprised by her primary showing. “I worked hard for 11 months to prove to Republican voters that I was someone they could support,” she said. “I think it's a reflection that voters believe they have a really good commission.”
Seel could not be reached for comment by the Tribune's deadline.