Democrats put up weak candidates for Maricopa County Attorney

The Democrats have written off the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office race this fall, due to Andrew Thomas’s 65% approval ratings, which are as high as Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s. It’s difficult to beat a Republican incumbent in Maricopa County, a Republican bastion. The two candidates they are putting forward are both unknowns. Tim Nelson has spent most of his career as a partisan hack for Janet Napolitano, acting as her advisor both at the AG’s Office and at the Governor’s Office. The rest of his career has been in big Democrat law firms, where I believe he did all trial work, no criminal law. He is a far left fringe candidate, as evidenced by his active representation of the ACLU in cases like suing the City of Gilbert over proclaiming Bible Week. Someone like that in office would aggressively pursue a liberal political agenda, which would mean loosening up penalties on crimes, letting more convicted criminals out of prison early, resulting in the crime rate going back up.

The Phoenix police department recently announced that crime has decreased in Phoenix over the past year, probably in part due to Thomas’s tougher policies and laws he’s helped get passed in the legislature. Arizonans are sick of our high crime rates and being #1 in the country for identity theft, they aren’t going to elect someone who will return us to that.
Gerald Richard, the Democrats’ other candidate, who has been the director of the Phoenix Police Department, seems to at least have a little bit of relevant experience, but he too comes from the far left, picking former legislator Art Hamilton to chair his exploratory committee. Most disturbing, his campaign website conspicuously omits any reference to illegal immigration. Considering illegal immigration is the #1 issue in this state, and there is a correlation between it and crime, the fact that Richard would choose to ignore it speaks volumes about his political agenda. We don’t need someone that naive in office. The job of county attorney is going to require dealing with crime related to illegal immigration, whether you like it or not, and sweeping it under the rug isn’t going to solve anything.

These candidates will provide some amusing sideshows, since the Arizona Republic will no doubt cover their every insignificant move. But in reality all they are is sacrificial lambs, how does a Democrat win a race for prosecutor against a popular Republican candidate? “We’re going to lower the penalties for stealing cars, Thomas’s policy of requiring 6 months in jail is too tough. Even though Arizona ranks among one of the top states in the country for auto theft, we think it’s mean to punish auto thieves that severely.” “We’re going to quit being so tough on child molesters. They’re just misunderstood, a product of bad families and drug abuse. With therapy instead of prison, some of these child molesters won’t end up with the 90%+ recidivism rates they usually have.” “It’s time to start letting prisoners out of prison earlier. Even though convicted felons are more likely than not to commit another felony upon release, we need to save money – it’s more important to put our tax dollars toward social welfare programs than locking up criminals.”
Both of these candidates are wasting their time and money. With John McCain heading the ticket this year, it’s going to be a great year in Arizona for Republicans in local races.


  1. Sonoran Sam says

    Keep under-estimating Tim Nelson and Gerald Richard.


  2. Alright then Sam, we will.

  3. I guess my response should have been “underestimating who and who?” since nobody knows who the * they are and since they aren’t going to have the money needed to run a real race.

    But hey, for the Democrats, I suppose its an improvement that they aren’t running just to meet chicks!

  4. Frank Soto says

    First, I do think that you are right in saying that Andrew Thomas will win re-election. While many prosecutors think that his tactics are…unique, he is loved by a great deal of the voting public, and that is all that matters to a politician.

    However, I think that your characterization of liberals view of ‘crime and punishment’ is grossly inaccurate. “law and order” politics is something that cuts across the political divide, to see that you just have to look at the Supreme Court’s decisions in Apprendi, Blakely, Booker, Rita, Gall, and Kimbrough. Justice Breyer essentially wrote the federal sentencing guidelines, which severely restricted judges and ratched up sentences. Scalia and Thomas were the key players in destroying the Guidelines, enabling judges to be more “activist” (y’alls term), and give lower sentences.

    Further, history just does not play out this false dichotomy of liberal=soft on crime, conservative =tough on crime. I am guessing that you do not know many people at DOJ, or at the AZ USAO. Most career prosecuters are left leaning; as are most career government employees. I don’t know many people from the Maricopa County Attorney’s office, but I suspect you would find that many of them are ‘liberal.’ Also, look at the history of many big city police departments. Chicago, Boston had huge Irish democrat police departments.

    It turns out that there actually are some issues that both sides can agree upon, and I think crime is one that there are more points of connection than disconnect. It is just unfortunate that idealogues have to make everything political, instead of coming together to make things better.

  5. Frank Collins says

    Frank, first your right on for sharing my first name but second you are right on. I am a retired police detective from Phoenix sex crimes and I am glad you said what I wanted. I hate how these “conservatives” ( not Republicans ) like to pretend they are tough on law and order yet refuse to fund us. I’ve been through democrat and republican mayors, governors, and police chiefs and i’ve seen Tough as Nails Democrats and whiney Republicans. Thomas is tough but what I think we all fear is that he can do all these side projects and keep his basic job going at the same time. I heard the other day that his prosecution rate is way down cause he is taking on more cases than anyone. That will come to hurt him in this race. I heard its something like he’s only won 20% of his cases.

  6. Iris Lynch says

    Just think, a 65% approval rating. No brand of toothepaste does that well! Just wait until he starts campainging. Even better, wait until these Dems start campaigning and throwing stones, tomatoes etc.

    As for winning 20% of cases, it is BY FAR more important to PROSECUTE, though it is nice to win. However, keep in mind that this very low 20% has been thrown out there with no visible backing. On the other hand, the military wins 98% of its cases. How would we like that, Mr. Nifong?

    I think the world of Andrew Thomas as a decent, hard-working, practical realist. How refreshing to have an elected official who actually represents the people who voted for him. AMEN.

  7. His website does have a quote about illegal immigration:

    “• Residents should not be fearful of the criminal activity associated with illegal immigration and illegal immigrants who commit crimes within our communities should be prosecuted, incarcerated, and deported in order to insure safe neighborhoods.”

    Make sure you do your research before you start throwing accusations.

  8. FreeAdvice says

    They prosecute 40,000 felonies a year, and have convictions on something like 90% of those cases because the of guilty pleas. Thomas stopped the soft plea bargains and make them “plead to the lead” which is plead guilty and serve the sentence for the most serious charge. So naturally some people choose to go to trial, so the ratio of trials to pleas goes up. Now the jury decides, but it’s still only a tiny fraction of the cases that go to trial. The end result is that tons more people are incarcerated, and are in prison on their own admission of guilt.

  9. Frank Soto says

    Free Advice:

    I would also be suspicious of the 20% conviction rate. The “plead to the lead” philosophy is certainly something new and unique, and I think there are good arguments on either side of that policy debate. As far as whether more people in jail is a good or bad thing, I read the following linked post this morning, and think you would be intersted in it, especially the comments following the post (they even have a rational discussion!).

  10. Frank Soto says

    oh, p.s. volokh is generally considered a conservative/libertarian legal blog

  11. To Free Advice says

    Actually, “plead to the lead” is not new or unique. Rick Romley’s plea policies also required that the defendant plead guilty to the highest felony charge in virtually all cases except first time offenders. That exception was made because the defendant would be able to get the same sentence after trial and thus there would be no incentive to plead guilty.

    And if you think Romley was soft on crime, just ask any prosecutor who worked for him or any defense attorney who went up against him and his policies.

  12. Ex Prosecutor says

    As an ex-prosecutor under the Romley and now Thomas regime I can sincerely attest to the demoralized prosecutor. In addition, the morale of the office is low. Last, as an ex-prosecutor we had no discretion. It was all black and white. I did not go to law school to become someone’s robot.

    I am a firm believer that we should be tough on crimes and we need to implement smart and calculated immigration laws. Once their is change in the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, I will then return to my true desire and dedication – to serve as a public servant for my community.

  13. Vote Gerald says

    I have known Gerald Richards professionally for over 20 years and you can not find a more qualified and better canadit to oppose Andrew Thomas. He is fair, tough on criminals, and also knows what it takes to run a office such as the County Attorney’s Office. My wife took college courses from Gerald well before I knew her and her assessment is equally positive, he was one of the best, most forward thinkers she had as a professor. We need leadership, a morale boost, and integrity restored back to the office. I hope it scares everyone that Andrew Thomas wanted to subpoena information of everyone who visited a newpaper website. That sounds like Nazi Germany or Russia where the government spied on people. I live in the US where I know Gerald will preserve the integrity of the constitution.

  14. Mayan Tahan says

    Now that we have a family man like Tim Nelson running, voters have a wonderful alternative to Thomas. In addition to being a an excellent attorney, Tim Nelson is respectful to women (one of Thomas’ weak points – he wrote in the Wall
    Street Journal that daycare is a “vice” and questioned whether parents
    who send their children there are “truly worthy of their love”). Something that’s very hard to hear when some women are working hard to feed their children – would he prefer that we sit at home and collect welfare? It’ll also be nice to have someone in office who doesn’t waste tax dollars defending against lawsuits caused by his incompetence (yet another Thomas problem).

  15. Russ Levine says

    Gerald is a nice enough guy but he doesn’t really have experience as a lawyer. We can’t risk a County Attorney without the litigation skills to keep criminals off the street and corporate crooks out of board rooms. Tim Nelson has all the right experience to keep our streets and our wallets safe.

  16. Kath ginett says

    Gerald Richard is not in anyone’s political pocket. He will not have to hire “outside council” to pay back favors to people who donate to his campaign.Tim is owned by the Govenor.Gerald is also the ONLY candidate running with any relevent experience. Civil is not criminal. This office and its responsibilties are to serve the public not the politicians. As a Republican I am embarrassed by
    Thomas’s shameless self promotion and lack of convictions. His lack of support for women in the work place, and his blantant attempt to use his office to create name regonition for future politicl endeavors. Thomas must go.Let’s put a qualified prosecutor in the office who isn’t in bed polically with anyone. One man is the perfect solution and that man is Gerald Richard.
    Intelligent voters know that.