Rachel Mitchell declares victory in Maricopa County attorney race, Gunnigle appears to concede

Mitchell is the apparent winner after Gunnigle conceded in a statement early Monday morning.
Mitchell is the apparent winner after Gunnigle conceded in a statement early Monday morning.(Arizona's Family)
Published: Nov. 14, 2022 at 9:03 AM MST|Updated: Nov. 14, 2022 at 11:35 AM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- Republican Rachel Mitchell is seemingly declaring herself victorious in the Maricopa County Attorney race, as thousands of votes have yet to be counted. Mitchell is the apparent winner after Gunnigle conceded in a statement early Monday morning.

The latest election return gives Mitchell about a four-point lead over Democrat Julie Gunnigle, with approximately 68,000 more votes. More ballots are expected to be counted throughout the day with another update coming from the county in the evening.

Mitchell made a social media post just before 8:30 a.m. saying that she would continue her work as the county’s top prosecutor. However, she did not explicitly state that she had won. “I am deeply honored this community has overwhelmingly shown its support and trust in my leadership of the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office,” she said, adding that she would further her involvement with law enforcement and community leaders in the midst of public safety crisis.

Hours later, Gunnigle shared a statement expressing her disappointment, saying in part that “this isn’t the result we were hoping for.”

Mitchell came into the office at a contentious time

She was one of three GOP candidates considered after her predecessor, Allister Adel, resigned in March 2022 after reports circulated, later confirmed, that around 180 misdemeanor criminal cases were dropped because charges weren’t filed on time. Adel also battled a multitude of health conditions and allegations of drinking on the job.

Ultimately, Mitchell got the job but continued campaigning through the primaries to continue her reign as the county’s top prosecutor. She claimed victory for the GOP nomination nearly 24 hours after polls had closed. Mitchell won with a 16-point lead over her competitor Gina Godbehere, 28 to 42%.

Mitchell’s rise to power

Mitchell first came into the political spotlight after Senate Republicans named her, a career prosecutor, to question now-U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who was facing sexual assault accusations at the time.

In April, Arizona’s Family’s Nicole Crites sat down with Mitchell, who said her top priority is focused on restoring the public’s faith in her office. “The prosecutors in this office are overwhelmed,” she told us then.

Mitchell’s recent track-record

Since then, Mitchell has been busy dealing with a surging number of drugs targeting youth, more allegations of voter fraud in the primaries, and the current General Election.

During a debate conducted by the Clean Elections Commission and televised on Arizona’s Family, she differentiated her policy stances on police reform and abortion from Democrat Julie Gunnigle. “I’m going to look at every case. It does not mean I’m going to announce in advance I’m not going to follow a law because I don’t like it. That’s not my role,” Mitchell explained then about the current legal battle over abortion in the state.

Mitchell also differentiated herself with a “tough on crime” approach as the Valley has witnessed a rise in gun violence and a growing wave of attacks against law enforcement.

In September, Mitchell made a significant policy change requiring plea deals to defendants to include a prison sentence if their crime involved using a firearm. However, the policy doesn’t apply to defendants who were simply in possession of a gun when defendants purportedly committed the crime.

She also scored a recent prosecution victory over a prolific street racer and organizer in Phoenix who was sentenced to two-and-a-half years behind bars after pleading guilty.

Stay with Arizona’s Family for updates.