An incumbent who changed his mind and will be running for his own seat despite not being on the ballot; a Sheriff’s race with a prominent independent candidate after the incumbent lost re-election; and a County Attorney seat left unopposed because of a court challenge. This year’s general election on Tuesday has some oddities to talk about in La Paz County!
Let’s take a look at each one.
(1) Changes of mind
In the race for District 1 Supervisor, incumbent DL Wilson had decided not to run for re-election. Local realtor David Plunkett decided to run, and was unopposed in the Republican primary for the seat, getting 96 percent of the vote. Since there is also no Democrat challenger, the seat would almost certainly go to Plunkett in Tuesday’s general election, especially with the recent endorsement of District 2 Supervisor Duce Minor. But in August, Wilson announced that he had changed his mind and planned to pursue his current seat as a write-in candidate, something Parker Live has never observed in a local election, and believes to be rare in general. “Things have really changed since June when I initially decided not to seek re-election,” Wilson said, citing new federal opportunities for solar development and the changes wrought by the global pandemic. His change of mind makes the race effectively a contested one, despite Wilson’s name not appearing on the ballots that will be counted next Tuesday. And it will be an experiment for Wilson, on whether it is possible to gain re-election while counting only on write-in votes to do it. (The situation also means a rare case of two Republicans with sights on the same office in a general election.)
(2) A prominent independent
One name that will be on the ballot, but not in the typical two-party category, is Mike Roth. Running as an Independent candidate for Sheriff, Roth is a vocal activist in local politics from the Quartzsite area who is known to have a libertarian bent. It’s not Roth’s first time on the ballot for various offices, but usually, politics has a way of favoring Republican and Democrat candidates. Earlier this year, incumbent Bill Risen lost his re-election bid in the Republican primary to challenger William Ponce, a law enforcement leader who also did his time in the town of Quartzsite (and whose path crossed with Roth many times). So it is now a three-way race to replace Risen: Ponce as Republican, Felipe Rodriguez as Democrat, and Roth as an Independent. Side note: It isn’t rare for sheriffs in La Paz County to lose their re-election bids. Hal Collett lost to challenger Don Lowery in 2008 and John Drum lost to challenger Risen in 2016. Perhaps there’s something about the job – or the La Paz County electorate – that tends to favor change.
(3) Unopposed by misstep
After a run-in with her boss County Attorney Tony Rogers, former prosecutor Karen Hobbs decided to run against him as a Republican days after she was fired. She submitted well over double the number of signatures necessary to formalize her candidacy, but a court challenge resulted in the signatures being ruled invalid. She was disqualified as a candidate, leaving Rogers on Tuesday’s general election ballot unopposed. The odd series of events had changed the race in an unexpected way.
Parker Live will endeavor to have La Paz County’s general election results available as soon as they are known, beginning with unofficial results on Tuesday night.