Oct. 24, 2004
Election 2004 Special Section
The two candidates for Maricopa County attorney have both raised about $150,000 for their campaigns.
Both have been accused of being eccentric.
The similarities end there.
Don Harris, 66, is a longtime independent voter who registered as a Democrat in March. An avowed liberal, he supports less-stringent punishment in small-time drug possession cases and has been an active member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
Harris has said he believes County Attorney Richard Romley has created poor morale in the office, which he would improve initially by firing top supervisors.
His opponent, Andrew Thomas, 37, has been endorsed by Romley and said he would continue the "Romley legacy," though he also wants to make fewer plea agreements with criminal defendants.
Thomas, a Republican, is an author of conservative books and articles that take a hard line on liberalism and what he calls "radical individualism." He supports tougher sentences for certain illegal immigrants accused of other crimes in the county, and has said he hopes to use the office, in part, to encourage immigration reform.
The candidates also differ in experience.
Harris is a Marine Corps veteran who served in Vietnam. He prosecuted death penalty cases for the county attorney’s office in the late 1960s and has four decades of legal experience, mostly in defense work.
In 1976, he was appointed county attorney for five months but chose not to run for elected office.
Thomas has a Harvard law degree and has written three books and is working on a fourth.
He has worked as a prosecutor for the offices of Arizona attorney general and county attorney, and has also worked as a defense attorney, policy adviser to former Gov. Fife Symington and chief counsel for the Arizona Department of Corrections.