In a spirited race for one of Maricopa County's high-profile positions, Bill Montgomery has defeated interim and former Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley to earn the Republican ticket and now will campaign against attorney Michael Kielsky of the Libertarian Party in the Nov. 2 general election.
Montgomery led the GOP primary after garnering 49.7 percent of the votes (133,508) to Romley's 37.8 percent (101,386), according to unofficial results from 1,137 of the county's 1,142 precincts.
Montgomery, 43, told the Tribune late Tuesday that it was work among the voters and a hard-working staff of more than 100 volunteers that provided the difference over Romley, who served for four terms as county attorney ending in 2004.
"Surprised?," Montgomery said. "No. We expected to be successful. A lot of hard work went into this. Now, we're looking forward."
Montgomery said about 10:30 p.m. Tuesday that he knew a lot of votes still needed to be turned in, but that he received a phone call from Romley, who had conceded.
"He was very gracious, and I was thankful," Montgomery said. "I'm grateful to the voters and plan to honor the trust and confidence they placed in me."
Montgomery, who formerly worked as a deputy county prosecutor for two stints, last served as the head of the auto theft division before resigning on April 30 soon after Romley returned to the office, which has a $65 million annual budget and 850 employees.
Montgomery, who supports the death penalty, is running on the platform of focusing on hot-button issues, including heavily pursuing crimes committed by illegal immigrants, elder abuse and crimes against children.
Montgomery said he campaigned full-time and "criss-crossed" the county for the last 10 months, speaking to numerous organizations.
Chandler Mayor Boyd Dunn, who had dropped out of the race even though his name remained on the ballot, had 12.3 percent of the votes (32,966).
No Democrats sought the post.
Montgomery had won the 2006 Republican nomination for attorney general but ended up losing to incumbent Terry Goddard.
While working as deputy county attorney, Montgomery also prosecuted crimes such as felony DUIs, manslaughter and aggravated assault. His other assignments have included prosecuting repeat offenders and gang members.
Romley, who also supports the death penalty, said he planned to have a death penalty case review team revisit all 79 of the county's ongoing capital cases to make sure they fall within the requirements of death penalty cases.
Romley also said that he would prosecute crimes under SB 1070, Arizona's new immigration law, when they reached the level of felonies. He plans to revive the organized crime division focusing on drug cartels and human, drug and gun smuggling, white-collar crimes and major gang activity.
Romley could not be reached for comment late Tuesday.