The Skinny

Can Democrat Rex Scott win an upset victory in the race for Pima County Board of Supervisors in GOP-leaning District 1?

One of the key races to watch this November is the contest for the District 1 seat on the Pima County Board of Supervisors, where Republican Steve Spain is facing Democrat Rex Scott.

District 1, which includes Marana, Oro Valley and the Catalina Foothills, has long been a solid Republican district. But things have begun to shift. As the 2020 election looms, the district is home to roughly 55,000 Republicans, 52,000 Democrats and 44,000 independents who aren't registered to the two major parties. That's a narrow advantage for a Republican candidate, but it's a margin that would be comfortable in some races.

But Republicans did not fare well in District 1 in 2018. Several Democrats won the district on their way to winning statewide. U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, Arizona Corporation Commissioner Sandra Kennedy, Secretary of State Katie Hobbs and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman all won the district by an average of 3,000 votes. That's despite the fact that roughly 9,000 more Republicans than Democrats cast a ballot in District 1 in 2018. That means that independent voters along with crossover Republicans helped the Democrats overcome the voter registration disadvantage.

And independent voters in District 1 appear to be leaning in the direction of Democrats this year. Of those who asked to vote in the primary, 3,049 asked for Democratic ballots, while 2,386 asked for GOP ballots—meaning 56 percent of independents were leaning towards the Democratic Party and 44 percent were leaning toward Republican Party.

All of that is good news for Democratic candidate Rex Scott. Scott is a former teacher and school administrator who worked as an assistant principal at Ironwood Ridge High School in the Amphi School District and as a principal at Tortolita Middle School in the Marana Unified School District, both of which overlap with District 1. That gives him some existing name ID for voters in that area of the district.

Scott didn't have much trouble in his primary race, capturing about two-thirds of the vote against political rookie Brian Radford.

Spain, who has helped hotel chains with their technological needs, prevailed in his four-way primary, but he only captured 34 percent of the vote against former state lawmaker Vic Williams (who got 25 percent of the vote), Oro Valley Councilmember Rhonda Piña (who got 23 percent of the vote) and former Pima County Republican Party chair Bill Beard (who got 18 percent). Spain's main asset in his campaign was the endorsement of incumbent Supervisor Ally Miller, who has been a vocal critic of her colleagues—both Republican and Democrat—on the Board of Supervisors as well as Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry. (To the minds of many on the right, Huckelberry is the great villain of Pima County, out to destroy roads, ruin business opportunities and generally make Pima County uninhabitable.)

Scott has also far outpaced Spain in fundraising. As of July 18, Scott had put together a campaign war chest of nearly $56,000. He'd spent about $23,000 of that, leaving him with close to $33,000 in the bank.

Spain, by contrast, had raised less than $15,000 as of July 18 and had less than $4,000 in the bank.

Given that he won the primary, Spain will likely be able to raise more money as the general approaches. But many members of the biz community—or at least the ones who write big checks—have tired of Miller's antics after eight years on the board. And they may see Scott, a former Republican himself, as an acceptable option compared to Spain.

All of which doesn't make Scott the favorite in the race—but it does mean it's the most competitive race among the contests for Board of Supervisors this year.

Last week's Skinny column exposed the colorful career of Constable Oscar Vasquez, who has managed—in his first four-year term—to get banned from driving county cars after taking some of them for spins at greater than 100 mph and blowing up the engine of one vehicle. He's also been reprimanded multiple times by the Constable Ethics, Standards & Training Board following a road-rage incident and an episode in which publicly urinated while delivering legal paperwork.

In December 2019, the Constable Ethics, Standards & Training Board ordered him to take courses in anger management and driver safety, which he failed to do by mid-July of this year, leading the ethics board to recommend that the Pima County Board of Supervisors suspend him for 30 days without pay.

The Board of Supervisors went even further, voting 5-0 this week to suspend Vasquez without pay through the end of his term in January 2021, even though he finally took his classes on anger management and driver safety. Vasquez, who didn't return a phone call from the Weekly, and complained he was the victim of "one-sided media coverage" in his plea to the board to avoid suspension.

Vasquez is running unopposed for a second term in November.

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