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Napier ousts Nanos in Pima sheriff race

Three Arizona counties will no longer have controversial sheriffs, as Pima's Chris Nanos was defeated by GOP challenger Mark Napier, while Maricopa's Joe Arpaio was voted out and Pinal's Paul Babeu didn't run again as he pursued a failing bid for Congress.

While Apaio and Babeu have had much higher profiles and a longer time in the spotlight, Nanos — who was appointed to the Pima County Sheriff's Department post when Sheriff Clarence Dupnik resigned a year ago — has been beset by claims centered on a federal misuse of funds investigation that resulted in the indictment of his chief deputy, Chris Radtke. Some deputies made claims that Nanos had a hot-headed and retaliatory management style.

Napier, a Republican who lost against Dupnik four years ago, flipped the script in this race and was winning against Nanos 56-44 percent.

Napier had 183,000 votes in the early count, with Nanos at 142,000.

Nanos conceded the election in a Facebook post Wednesday morning.

"You have no worries as the PCSD will ALWAYS keep you safe," he wrote. "I'm so grateful to have been part of such a great team. It was an honor to work alongside so many talented and caring individuals, just as it has been an honor to serve you and this great community."

"(My wife) and I will be fine. We ask you keep us in your prayers as we will you, the PCSD and Sheriff Mark Napier," Nanos wrote.

Napier said he was "proud beyond words to be elected."

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Napier attributed his victory to not getting involved in party ideology.

"I didn't want to be the sheriff of the Republicans in Pima County. I wanted to be the sheriff of everybody in Pima County," he said Tuesday night.

"I am going to flatten the organization out," Napier said of the Pima County Sheriff's Department. "There are too many upper-level positions." He also said there are a lot of salaries that need to be cut.

Arpaio & Babeu leaving posts

After holding the position of Maricopa County sheriff for more than two decades, Joe Arpaio lost his seat to Democrat Paul Penzone.

It was a stunning defeat for a Republican sheriff who has enjoyed both local and national popularity – and notoriety – for years. Controversy has plagued Arpaio in recent months, especially after federal prosecutors filed criminal contempt of court charges against him, and the county added more than $13 million to the budget to comply with a federal order stemming from a racial profiling lawsuit.

Democrat Tom O'Halleran led Paul Babeu, who is stepping down as Pinal County sheriff, in the race to represent the vast CD 1. O'Halleran, a former Republican who turned independent and then joined the Democrats, will fill the seat left open when U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick challenged U.S. Sen. John McCain. CD 1 runs from the Utah border, through Flagstaff, and down the eastern part of Arizona to Oro Valley, just north of Tucson.

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1 comment on this story

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1770 comments
Nov 9, 2016, 1:44 pm
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To me, Napier getting elected is by far the best news to come out of this election. I’ve said this before…my votes usually go to the least-worst candidate, against the one I despise the most. But, in Napier’s case, he gave me the VERY rare opportunity to vote FOR someone.

This really should have happened for years ago, and it is a shame that it didn’t. Better late than never, I guess.

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Paul Ingram/TucsonSentinel.com

Mark Napier speaks with supporters at the election night party for Pima County Republicans.