Republicans look like they made it a clean sweep in the state's top offices, winning the races for governor, secretary of state, attorney general, treasurer and superintendent of public instruction.
Republican Jan Brewer rode the wave of support for the state's controversial new immigration law to defeat Democrat Terry Goddard and remain as the state's top elected official.
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SECRETARY OF STATE
Republican Ken Bennett will continue as Arizona's secretary of state.
Bennett, who was appointed to the position when Jan Brewer was elevated to governor last year, defeated Democrat Chris Deschene in Tuesday's election. Results late Tuesday showed Bennett had nearly 59 percent of the vote to Deschene's 41 percent, with about 25 percent of precincts outstanding.
"It was a good race, but I'm obviously pleased with how the voters have spoken," Bennett said from a Phoenix hotel where he gathered with other Republicans. "We're going to work hard to continue to focus on protecting Arizonans' elections and the integrity."
The secretary of state is the state's chief election officer, a regulator for consumers and succeeds the governor if there's a vacancy. A proposition on Tuesday's ballot sought to make the line of succession more clear, but voters rejected it.
Bennett campaigned on what he said was a diversity of experience that included eight years in the Legislature and stints on the Prescott City Council and state Board of Education. He's also a businessman.
Bennett said he wants to review the voting system to make it more secure and convenient for Arizonans. That could include making ballots available from all precincts in a county at voting centers.
"We'll see if we can come up with a way to improve on what I think are already good, fair and honest elections in Arizona," he said.
He faced criticism from Deschene, a former Marine major who was elected to the state Legislature in 2008, over the vetting of Green Party candidates. Bennett said his office had no authority to investigate whether the candidates allegedly were recruited by Republicans to siphon votes from Democrats.
A win for Deschene would have made him the first American Indian elected to a statewide office. Deschene had touted what he said was a proven record in ensuring voters' rights, as well as managing budgets and staff.
Republican Tom Horne defeated Democrat Felecia Rotellini to become Arizona's new attorney general.
Horne succeeds Attorney General Terry Goddard, the Democratic nominee for governor.
He won the race with 52 percent of the vote Tuesday, compared to Rotellini's 47 percent.
Horne attributed his victory to his willingness to defend Arizona's new immigration law and Rotellini's opposition to the law. He also said attack ads against him backfired.
"I won the race despite a massive amount of union money in the form of utterly despicable ads," said Horne, the state's public schools chief since 2003. "And I think that's because the voters know me, and therefore they didn't believe it."
Calls to Rotellini's campaign early Wednesday morning weren't immediately returned.
Horne has said his top priorities would include defending Arizona's new immigration law in court and joining a lawsuit on the state's behalf to challenge the Obama Administration's health care overhaul.
The race between Horne and Rotellini had been brutal ever since they squeaked through their party's primaries
Horne accused Rotellini of overselling her courtroom experience in her 13 years as a lawyer for the attorney general's office.
Rotellini said Horne was trying to divert attention from his lack of prosecutorial experience and the revocation of his license to sell securities decades ago.
Rotellini, who was Arizona's superintendent of financial institutions from 2006-2009, said she would have defended Arizona's new immigration law even though she didn't support it, because she didn't believe it would solve the state's border woes. Instead, she said she would have battled drug and immigrant smugglers by attacking their flow of money.
Longtime Arizona lawmaker John Huppenthal has wanted to revamp the state's school system for years. Now, he'll get the chance.
The 56-year-old Republican beat Democratic opponent Penny Kotterman to become the new state superintendent of public instruction.
The schools chief is responsible for running the Arizona Department of Education — a branch of state government that provides services to almost 2,000 district and charter schools serving more than 1 million students.
Huppenthal, who has been an Arizona legislator since 1993 and a state senator since 2005, said he's humbled to be elected to the superintendent's post and can't wait to get started.
He's chairman of the state Senate Education Committee and describes himself as one of Arizona's leading education policy experts and school reformers.
"My campaign was about ideas, like school choices and improved literacy rates," Huppenthal said. "From the voter's reception, we sold those ideas."
According to Huppenthal, 40 percent of Arizona students lack basic reading skills as of fourth grade. He plans to empower parents with school choices and insist that every child learns English "in a disciplined, organized classroom with a well-supported teacher.
Huppenthal also wants to put a renewed emphasis on math and science skills and "get improved results with high standards and an accountability system across all of Arizona."
Kotterman, who began teaching in 1978, spent six years as president of the Arizona Education Association — the state's largest teachers union. She currently is director of new programs and policy at the Arizona K-12 Center.
Kotterman, 53, did not return calls for comment Tuesday night.
"I can't say enough good things about my opponent," Huppenthal said. "Penny and I have worked together for 20 years and I look forward to working with her in the future."
Being a newcomer to politics didn't hurt Doug Ducey after all.
The 46-year-old Phoenix businessman was elected state treasurer, beating Democratic opponent Andrei Cherny.
"I'm glad to cross the finish line," Ducey said. "I think what resonated with voters was being a newcomer to politics. I'm not a political insider ... and it's a good day to be a fiscal conservative."
Cherny, a former state prosecutor and White House aide, attacked his Republican opponent in several televised debates. He harped on Ducey's failure to pay his home property taxes on time and also being late in filing corporate paperwork. He also claimed Ducey wasn't fiscally responsible enough to be Arizona's chief financial officer and manage the state's nearly $10 billion investment portfolio.
Ducey admits the mistakes and said everything has been paid in full. He also said he'll use his business acumen to make safe and prudent decisions that will protect taxpayers' money.
Ducey was the owner and CEO of Cold Stone Creamery from 1995 until selling the ice cream company in 2007. He oversaw the franchise's expansion to 1,440 stores across the U.S. and into 10 other countries and now is chief investor and chairman of a company that digitizes home movies.
"The first thing I want to do is review our investment portfolio. I want to bring clarity to the numbers," Ducey said. "I'm looking forward to working with the governor and getting the state headed in the right direction."
Cherny, 35, wanted to bring a prosecutor's outlook to the treasurer's job. He said he would be "the taxpayer's bulldog" and start auditing state government to eliminate waste and mismanagement.
But Cherny, who was an Arizona assistant attorney general from 2006 to 2009 after working on economic policy for the Clinton administration, couldn't overcome a national Democratic backlash from voters at the polls.
"We could not swim far enough or fast enough to get clear of this huge tidal wave," Cherny said. "But I'm proud of the campaign I ran."
He's also proud of his new daughter. Cherny's wife Stephanie gave birth to a 6-pound, 4-ounce girl named Belle on Monday night at a Phoenix hospital. They already are parents of a 2-year-old boy.