Maricopa County Supervisor Bill Gates is calling it quits. This week he announced his decision to not seek re-election in 2024.
Gates, who came out earlier this month as suffering from PTSD due to what he described as harassment endured from the still lingering fights over the 2020 and 2022 elections, struggled to retain his seat in 2020. As a result, his decision to decline to run again came as no surprise to his many supporters and detractors.
Recent polling shows that Gates, and his fellow Supervisors Thomas Galvin, Jack Sellers, and Clint Hickman would not emerge as winners in the upcoming 2024 Republican Primary. The same polling found that County Attorney Rachel Mitchell and County Recorder Stephen Richer share the same poor polling numbers with GOP voters.
Under Gates’ leadership as the Board of Supervisors President, the County mismanaged the 2022 General Election, with high profile problems occurring especially on Election Day. To the frustration of GOP voters and officials, rather than allow extra time for voters to cast their ballots on Election Day, the County took a combative tone and defensive position, going to court to fight against any extra voting hours. Nor did the County’s fight against election transparency or accountability end there, as they freely spent taxpayer dollars to block legitimate attempts to ascertain exactly what went wrong and why, even while insisting that the election was nearly flawless in its execution.
The County made a stab at appearing to be transparent when it hired former Arizona Supreme Court Justice Ruth McGregor to conduct a superficial audit of the election. However, the expensive audit produced substantive incriminating findings, leaving many Republican voters to lose what was left of their faith in the Republican Supervisors, according to Republican consultants and AZGOP insiders.
Now, Republicans are concerned about keeping this normally red county in the GOP’s column next year.
Shortly after Gates announced his intention, former Phoenix City Councilman Sal DiCiccio announced his interest in running for the spot. While DiCiccio was in a safe Republican district during his time on the Council, redistricting was not so kind to his former Chief of Staff Sam Stone when he ran for his boss’ seat. Stone lost decidedly to a Democrat, who reportedly did not even live in the district.
Still, DiCiccio claims to have nearly $500,000 in contribution commitments and would be a strong candidate. And he will have to be — while the district is nominally a Republican leaning district, State Treasurer Kimberly Yee narrowly won it by just 2 points while cruising to a huge statewide win in 2022.
With @billgatesaz opting out of 2024 the type of Republican nominee WILL make a big difference. Trump populist @karilake lost by ~12 to @katiehobbs.
More traditional @KimberlyYeeAZ won by over 2. Big swing.
Redistricted BOS 3
— The AZ – abc15 – Data Guru (@Garrett_Archer) June 1, 2023
In addition to the Board of Supervisors races, GOP officials are concerned about both Stephen Richer’s County Recorder race and Rachel Mitchell’s County Attorney race. Richer’s brand is increasingly toxic among Republicans, suggesting he would lose the general election should he manage to win the primary, and Mitchell won by a mere 4 points over the Democrat’s extreme nominee for County Attorney, Julie Gunnigle.
Since her election, Mitchell has been protective of the Supervisors and other unpopular officials, which in turn threatens to erode more of her own party support. “Gone are the days when the Democrats didn’t put much energy into Maricopa County races.” said one GOP consultant. “Republicans need candidates who can earn the support of the party faithful without being nut jobs that scare away general election voters, otherwise the GOP could easily lose the county!”