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Every vote counts: Legislative primary races remain too close to call

AIf you think your vote can’t make a difference, think again.

In three of Arizona’s legislative primary races, the difference between the winning and losing candidates is only a handful of votes.

Although early ballots have been counted and every polling precinct has reported vote tallies in all three races, hundreds of outstanding votes still likely need to be tabulated, as the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office is still tallying provisional and early ballots dropped off at polling places on Election Day.

Unless those late votes widen the spread between the candidates, the races are close enough to force a recount, which is required for legislative races where candidates are separated by fewer than 50 votes.

In the Legislative District 28 House GOP primary race, moderate Republican candidate Mary Hamway is leading her more conservative party mate, Shawnna Bolick, by a mere seven votes.

Republican Rep. Kate Brophy McGee, who has a commanding lead, has a sure lock on the district’s first House spot.

While the right wing of the GOP has condemned Hamway for her support of Medicaid expansion and the Common Core educational standards, many centrist Republicans worry that Bolick would not be able to defeat Rep. Eric Meyer, the incumbent Democrat who occupies the second seat in this moderate, competitive central Phoenix district.

In the West Valley’s LD29, Democratic Reps. Lydia Hernandez and Martin Quezada both decided to make the jump to the Senate, where a seat has opened up following Sen. Steve Gallardo’s decision to run for Maricopa County supervisor. Although they are seatmates in the House, the two come from different sects of the Democratic Party, and they have some real policy differences. Hernandez is pro-life, while Quezada is pro-choice, for example.

The winner of the primary is heavily favored to defeat the Republican nominee for the seat in November election, as the district is overwhelmingly Democratic.

But after the dust settled on primary election night, the two were still unsure who will win their party’s nomination.

Hernandez leads Quezada by only 36 votes, a large enough lead to not force a recount. In that race, there are still an additional 1,599 Democratic early ballots to be counted.

Meanwhile, Republican Rep. John Allen, who is seeking re-election in LD15, is leading former Republican Rep. David Burnell Smith by only nine votes. If the difference remains below 15 votes, the race will have to be recounted. There are still 5,764 Republican early ballots to be counted.

Allen and Burnell Smith are fighting it out for the district’s second House seat.

Burnell Smith barely lost his re-election campaign to Allen in the 2012 GOP primary. Burnell Smith, a DUI lawyer, was arrested for drunk driving in 2012, when he was still serving in the Legislature. Allen beat the sitting lawmaker in the GOP primary that year by only 416 votes, or 1.2 percentage points.

The primary winners will not face any Democrats in November in this strongly Republican district.

As in the other districts, a recount will become necessary in LD15 – unless the final ballots increase the difference between the two candidates to more than 50 votes.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the vote differential for triggering a recount in legislative districts was less than 50 votes. In fact, the difference between the two candidates must be equal to or less than 0.1 percent of the total votes the two candidates received, or 50 votes, whichever is less.

Too close to call

LD28 House: Mary Hamway +7 votes over Shawnna Bolick

LD15 House: John Allen +9 votes over David Burnell Smith

LD29 Senate: Lydia Hernandez +36 votes over Martin  Quezada

LD27 House: Reginald Bolding +235 votes over Rep. Norma Munoz

LD25 House: Rusty Bowers + 445 votes over Michelle Udall

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