On primary election night it looked as if “Go Daddy Girl” Christine Jones may have finally spent enough of her personal fortune to buy a congressional seat in the CD 5 GOP primary, after losing previous elections.
But after the last batch of ballots were processed and uploaded onto election computers on Saturday, “Go Daddy Girl” came up nine votes short to state Sen. Andy Biggs, who got his personal fortune by winning the Publisher’s Clearinghouse Sweepstakes.
This means that the CD 5 GOP congressional primary is headed for an automatic recount, and things are going to get ugly between these two. The Arizona Republic reports, Christine Jones questions 9-vote loss to Andy Biggs; race is ‘far from settled’:
Congressional hopeful Christine Jones, who lost the Republican primary by just 9 votes to state Sen. Andy Biggs as the final votes were tallied early Saturday, is questioning the ballot count and seeking more information about how it was conducted.
The Biggs campaign accused the Jones campaign of sowing seeds of doubt about a fair and secure counting process. Biggs and his team called for transparency, while predicting his victory will be upheld. Biggs campaign attorney Kory Langhofer called it “gutter politics.”
Jones had been leading the 5th Congressional District Republican primary all week as the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office processed thousands of mail-in and provisional ballots. But on Friday, as waves of new results were posted, Biggs shaved her lead down.
In the final tally reported at about 2 a.m. Saturday, a small batch of ballots boosted Biggs to his current razor-thin lead. In total, more than 85,000 votes were cast in the four-way race.
The margin between Biggs and Jones is so narrow that state statute requires a recount, which would begin after the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office canvasses the results on Sept. 12, said county recorder spokeswoman Elizabeth Bartholomew.
But by mid-morning Saturday, Jones campaign staffers already were meeting with a legal team led by Valley election attorney Joe Kanefield and preparing to start their own review.
Jones campaign consultant Brian Seitchik called the race “far from settled” and alleged there were “significant statistical anomalies.”
The campaign sent a six-page public records request to the county recorder’s office seeking communications between staffers and the Biggs campaign, names of voters, reasons for provisional ballot rejections, evidence of so-called “ballot harvesting,” details of equipment malfunctions and other information.
Bartholomew confirmed that the office had received the records request and was gathering documentation.
At least one major equipment breakdown delayed the vote counting for hours Friday.
When a ballot gets stuck in a counting machine and bends or crumples, staffers must remove the ballot and print another one with the same selected candidates to re-run through the machine. On Friday, the printer broke down, delaying staffers from reprinting and counting several hundred ballots.
Biggs campaign consultant Adam Deguire said the campaign welcomes “a fully transparent recount process, where both campaigns will have representatives present to observe.”
He added that Biggs desires, just as Jones, for the will of the voters to prevail.
“We are certain that after the recount, the results will once again show that Andy Biggs is the candidate who they desire to be their Republican nominee,” Deguire said in a written statement.
Langhofer excoriated the Jones campaign for raising questions about Biggs’ campaign manager, Cesar Ybarra, being allowed to sit in the tabulation room to observe as a representative of the Maricopa County Republican Party. The party chair, an early Biggs endorser, chose Ybarra to be a party observer. Purcell told Ybarra to leave when the Jones campaign notified her of his role.
Her office said there was no way he could have done anything to affect the count. Observers from each party sit in the middle of the room as staffers process ballots and are not allowed to touch ballots or receive information about the vote tally prior to its public release. In addition, the room is monitored by 24/7 video cameras, which stream live to a public website.
If the Jones campaign believes there was misconduct, Langhofer said, it should release video demonstrating the behavior.
“To smear Cesar’s reputation or suggest that he did something wrong when there’s absolutely no evidence he did anything wrong … is really horrifying,” Langhofer said.
This could be entertaining. Pop some popcorn.