Conservative author and political novice Andrew Thomas easily whipped his Democratic opponent in the race for Maricopa County Attorney.
Thomas, 38, reaped the benefits of a Republican majority in the county and his opponent's lack of Democratic party support to achieve a solid lead by Tuesday evening.
"I'm gratified that the voters have supported my platform of fighting crime and of making our neighborhoods safer," Thomas said. " I certainly intend to focus on the issues I campaigned on -- fighting serious and violent crime, auto theft, identity theft and illegal immigration, which I still think the county attorney can do something significant about."
Thomas could not be immediately reached for comment. Meanwhile, Democrat Don Harris took his loss with stride among family and friends at his Paradise Valley home.
“Looks like I’m in a deep hole, which comes as a little bit of a surprise. But if that's what the people want, I accept it,” he said. “I feel I have ideas that are better suited for the office than my competitor, but I wish him the best of luck. I want to see the office run properly.”
Harris, 66, was by far the most qualified of the two candidates, with more than 40 years of work as a prosecutor and defense attorney. Yet he had been scorched by critics during the race for his off-the-cuff comments — often punctuated by expletives — and by scrutiny of his five-month temporary appointment as county attorney in 1976.
Thomas will replace outgoing Republican county attorney Richard Romley, who had decided against running for a fifth term after more than 15 years in office.
Thomas served for over a year as a prosecutor under Romley. His legal experience includes work as chief counsel for the state Department of Corrections, a policy adviser for former Arizona Gov. Fife Symington, a prosecutor at the state Attorney General's office and a private defense attorney.
However, he gained fame in right-wing circles as the author of conservative books, including a 1994 book about crime and a biography of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.