Republican County Attorney Candidates to Interview for Acting Position
Three Republican candidates vying to become Maricopa County prosecutor will talk to the county about temporarily filling the position in the months leading up to the election, the county board of supervisors announced Friday.
The Maricopa County Attorney General’s office has been vacant since March 25, when former county attorney Allister Adel resigned amid mounting scandals. Currently, Chief Deputy Ken Vick runs the office — despite the fact that, like Adel, he faces a state bar investigation into his role in the bogus “ACAB gang” protest cases.
Voters will decide the next county attorney in November. But before that, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors plans to appoint an acting county attorney — and appears to be choosing from among the three Republican candidates running for the position.
Those candidates are longtime MCAO prosecutors Rachel Mitchell and Gina Godbehere, as well as Anni Foster, general counsel for Governor Doug Ducey. One will face Julie Gunnigle, a Democrat who narrowly lost to Adel in the 2020 county prosecutors race.
State law requires that any appointed acting attorney be of the same political party as his or her predecessor. In this case, because Adel was a Republican, his designated successor must be too.
The August primary election for the county attorney’s seat is fast approaching — and if one of the Republican candidates is nominated for the job, it will likely give them a head start in the race.
“A well-run county attorney’s office is an essential part of a fair and efficient criminal justice system. This process will allow us to get to know candidates better and determine if one of them is the right person to fill. this position until voters choose a new county attorney in November,” Board Chairman Bill Gates said in a statement Friday.
In 2019, when former county attorney Bill Montgomery left office for an Arizona Supreme Court nomination, Mitchell and Godbehere competed to be named his acting replacement. It was something of a surprise when the board chose Adel over Mitchell, who at the time was second-in-command at MCAO.
Adel was nominated in October 2019, just over a year before the 2020 general election for county attorney, which she won.
In 2010, Rick Romley was named to replace former county attorney Andrew Thomas on the board after agreeing he would run for the seat in November. Ultimately, he lost to Montgomery.
Gunnigle said Phoenix New Times On Friday, she was disappointed to see that the supervisory board appeared to be considering nominating a candidate for the post.
“It’s so disturbing,” she said. “Fixing this office, however highly dysfunctional, is a full-time job. The Board of Supervisors is making a mistake by picking someone who is simultaneously running for office.”
Gunnigle added that it felt like a 2019 “replay”.
A spokesman for the oversight board did not comment on Gunnigle’s views, but said the three Republican candidates were the only ones invited to apply for the interim position.
Applicants will be required to complete a short questionnaire for the board, which will ask them what their “top priorities” are for the office and how they plan to address current staffing shortages.
He also asks about the 2020 presidential election. A candidate for county attorney, the board wrote, should be “familiar with the allegations and evidence,” given the candidate is running to become the representative legal advice.
“Based on your review of the allegations of fraud and the information made public, did the oversight board err in certifying the results of the 2020 election?” ask for the quiz.
As the board likely knows, two of the three Republican candidates in the race have already been asked this question — and struggled to answer it.
Godbehere, in an interview with The Arizona family, claimed that she had not considered enough evidence to answer. “It’s not right to stand there when I haven’t read all the details and facts to give an opinion one way or another,” she said.
Meanwhile, Foster would only say, “I think the question of who the president is has been resolved” when asked about the election results.
From now on, candidates will be obliged to develop these points of view further.
“We expect the person we appoint to be our advocate, unequivocally, and we expect them to put their oath of office and commitment to facts above political expediency,” wrote supervisor Tom Galvin on Friday.