Pinal County Democrats held commanding leads Tuesday over their Republican rivals for general government offices in early election results.
Incumbents Laura Dean-Lytle, the county’s recorder, Paul Larkin, the assessor, and Dolores Doolittle, treasurer — were all convincingly ahead of their opponents.
The results come at a time when the disparity between registered Democrats and registered Republicans has tightened to within a few points across the county.
Dean-Lytle, however, said that the success of her and her counterparts shows that Democrats were able to attract Republican voters and a large number of independents.
“I think it’s because we have all done a good job. I think that we have support among the Republicans and independents,” she said. “I think they are looking at candidates and not necessarily the party.”
The success of the Democratic incumbents is the first election after the scandal brought on by Stan Griffis, former county administrator.
Griffis was sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison in 2007 for embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars in county funds.
Republicans have never held a high-profile seat in Pinal County government.
With the gap between Democrats and Republicans narrowing over the last decade, Republicans had less of a demographic hump to overcome in gaining seats in this election.
Ron Reinagle, the Republican challenger for the Larkin’s assessor’s spot, said that the results are difficult to explain, given Republican demographic gains.
He said higher profile races, such as the supervisor and sheriff’s race, probably drew more voters.
But with Bryan Martyn, a Republican supervisor candidate, and Paul Babeu, the Republican challenger for Sheriff’s office, leading early, it should have translated into help for lower profile races.
“Maybe the sherriff’s race and the supervisor’s race ... was carrying a lot of voters, but it’s difficult to believe that wouldn’t filter through,” Reinagle said.
Countywide, Democrats in 2004 accounted for 41 percent of registered voters compared to a Republican bloc of 34 percent. About 25 percent of voters were independent.
That shifted by 2008. Demcorats lost ground and accounted for 36 percent of the electorate.
Republicans had 34 percent and independent voters bumped to nearly 30 percent of the electorate.
With a changing electorate, Republicans competed for many of the high-profile offices in the county.
Supervisor races, recorder, assessor, sheriff, treasurer, and a Superior Court judge spot saw Republican challengers.