Pima County Republican Party Chairman Bill Beard says the voter turnout this year speaks volumes—this is how discontent constituents are of the city of Tucson's current leadership.
The three Democratic incumbents running for re-election—Ward 1's Councilwoman Regina Romero, Ward 2's Councilman Paul Cunningham, and Ward 4's Councilwoman Shirley Scott—let the potholes, high poverty rate and insecurity get out of control, and it is time for a change, he says.
Bill Hunt hopes to unseat Romero, Kelly Lawton is challenging Cunningham, and Margaret Burkholder is running against Scott.
In terms of early ballot numbers, Democratic numbers are higher. But Beard says even "hardcore" Democrats have expressed disenchantment with what Tucson looks like these days. "Reality is, for years now, no matter what party you belong to, if you live in Tucson, you are very unhappy...and that crosses every political party in this town," he says.
Numbers show the incumbents ahead by roughly 8,000 votes each. Of 564,716 registered voters, there are 126,662 ballots cast thus far.
Results as of 8 p.m. All from early ballots:
Romero: 29, 965
But counting continues, and the GOP underdogs are hopeful.
"One way or the other, tonight is going to decide whether we will continue down the same path, or are we going to go another direction," Beard says. "The reality is, we have a new city manager, who in several public forums, when discussing 2018-2019 budgets...used bankruptcy and city of Tucson in the same sentence. That is the reality Tucson faces. The fact is, there is a higher vote return than anybody was projecting...my candidates are going to do well."