Republicans were holding out faint hopes for an upset win Tuesday night as the race between Democratic City Councilwoman Shirley Scott and GOP challenger Tyler Vogt remained too close to call.
Otherwise, Election Day brought a decisive Democratic sweep.
With an unknown number of votes left to count, Vogt trailed Scott by just 1,754 votes in the race for the southeast-side Ward 4.
“We just need those last few votes counted, because until the fat lady sings, you haven’t really won yet,” she said.
Vogt was hopeful that he would prevail.
“I think we really had a good message,” he said.
Vogt said that if he wins, he’ll need to rearrange his work schedule before he starts his term. If he loses, he said he has a lot to offer his brother, state Rep. Ted Vogt, in future elections.
“After seeing this from the inside, I feel like I can help my brother. I didn’t have much to offer him before, but now, I do. He was a big asset to me,” Vogt said.
Two years ago, Nina Trasoff became the first incumbent Democrat to lose a City Council seat in more than three decades.
Democrats had solid leads in the other races.
In the race for mayor, Democrat Jonathan Rothschild was beating Republican Rick Grinnell, 54.9 percent to 40.1 percent, when the city released results shortly after 8 p.m.
Rothschild was celebrating with the Democrats at the Lodge on the Desert when the numbers were released.
“It’s going to be a different style (of) mayor,” Rothschild told the crowd, before listing some of the poverty-related problems that face Tucson. “Now is the time to set aside petty political games and look our real challenges in the eye.”
Rothschild, an attorney, will replace Republican Mayor Bob Walkup, who is retiring after 12 years as mayor.
At the Republican celebration at the Manning House, Grinnell declined to talk to the Tucson Weekly. He said he was “busy”—and then moved on to talk to other reporters.
Green Party mayoral candidate Mary DeCamp captured 4.8 percent of the vote.
“Well, the Greens did OK!” said Mary DeCamp moments after she saw the results posted online.
“I performed a service. I brought a message to the table,” said DeCamp at her Election Night celebration at the Tasteful Kitchen on Stone Avenue. “We changed the dialogue.”
Now that the election is over, DeCamp said she plans to focus her efforts on Occupy Tucson.
“I have always found a way of being of service to my community. I probably won’t be paid well to do it, but I’ll be of service to my community.”
Ward 4 Democrat Shirley Scott had 51.06 percent of the vote compared to Vogt’s 48.68 percent. More than 76,000 mail-in votes had been tallied as of the night of the election, but a good number of ballots cast or dropped off on Election Day—some estimates put the figure at up to 10,000—had yet to be counted on Tuesday night. An unknown number of mailed-in ballots that needed signature verification or had other problems were also not yet tallied.
Scott was confident as she addressed the crowd at the Lodge on the Desert. But afterward, as she looked at the numbers on a big screen in a corner, Scott was surprised by how close the race was.
“I’m still in disbelief,” Scott said as she looked at the numbers.
Asked why she thought the race was so close, Scott said simply: “I don’t know.”
But Pima County Democratic Chairman Jeff Rogers offered a theory: “Negative ads pay off, especially if you don’t answer them.”
Scott faced a barrage of negative television ads and mailers blaming her for the city’s troubled Rio Nuevo project.
Back at the Manning House, Pima County Republican Party Chairwoman Carolyn Cox announced the results.
“We know the odds were stacked against us,” Cox told a clearly disappointed crowd.
Referring to the close race between Tyler Vogt and Shirley Scott, Cox said, “I think we have a chance of getting one out of there. I am sorry. It certainly isn’t what I was hoping for.
“This next election is important. … We have to win it, or we are going to lose our country.”
In northeast-side Ward 2, Democratic Councilman Paul Cunningham easily fended off a challenge from Republican Jennifer Rawson to win his first full term on the Tucson City Council. He had 56.8 percent of the vote, whereas Rawson received 43 percent.
“Tucson is one of the greatest cities in the world,” said Cunningham, who was appointed to the Ward 2 seat in 2010 after Democrat Rodney Glassman resigned to launch a failed bid for U.S. Senate. “We’re going to make this Tucson’s decade.”
Before the results were announced, Rawson jokingly blamed radio talk-show host Jon Justice for convincing her to run.
Later, Rawson said this would be her last run for public office.
“I ran to give the people an option. You only get one crack. In four years, I’ll be 68,” she said.
Rawson added that she ran for the sake of her grandsons, “but I’m not a politician.”
In westside Ward 1, Democrat Regina Romero bested Green Party candidate Beryl Baker, who did not run much of a campaign. Still, Baker managed to get 34 percent of the vote, compared to Romero’s 64.7 percent, showing that a fair number of voters were unhappy with the status quo.
Despite Baker’s surprisingly high number of votes, Romero said she was happy with the results.
“The city of Tucson continues to be a bright, blue city,” Romero said.
As of Tuesday night, the city’s first vote-by-mail general-election ballot was seeing a turnout of more than 27 percent.
Jimmy Boegle, Mari Herreras, Kellie Mejdrich and Jim Nintzel contributed to this story. Find late-breaking news, updated results and analysis here on The Range, the Tucson Weekly’s daily dispatch.