Although the daily’s intent was to hound Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas in today’s lengthy front page article extolling his two Democrat challengers, Thomas comes off as the hero of the report, titled Taking on Thomas.
The courageous and dynamic county attorney has a knack for emerging victorious when challenged.
Every candidate’s dream is the absence of a primary opponent. No Republican stepped forward to challenge the popular Thomas. After the Democrat primary election dust settles, the bruised “victor” will emerge for round two: the general election. Tim Nelson, long-time Napolitano crony is her pick. The liberal governor has been heard on auto-dialer calls supporting her former legal aide. Since Nelson has also out-raised his foe, Gerald Richard, in campaign funding, the bets are on Nelson as the ultimate contender to Andrew Thomas. But don’t count Thomas out because the governor supports a rival. He is a determined campaigner with an impressive record of successes. Most importantly, he has a loyal following who also appreciate his cordial working relationship with Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
The daily admits:
For example, Thomas has fought with the court system to implement Proposition 100, a 2006 citizens initiative that denies bond to illegal immigrants accused of serious crimes. Thomas and the courts argued over who and what determined if there was cause to believe a defendant was in the county illegally.
When somebody subverts the law, even the courts, Thomas said, “somebody has to speak up, and that’s what I did in the Prop. 100 controversy; I have no regrets about doing that.”
The measure has withstood scrutiny in the state’s courts. So has a state human-smuggling law that Thomas helped draft. He then interpreted that law to mean that he could prosecute people being smuggled into the state as conspirators along with the smugglers, known as coyotes. Thomas also helped draft and implement the state’s strict employer-sanctions law, which threatens to pull business licenses from those who knowingly employ illegal migrants.
No one can accuse Thomas of being soft on crime. He has sought the death penalty a record number of times compared with his predecessors and stiffened prosecutions of identity theft, methamphetamine use and crimes against children. He also has increased the number of trials by limiting plea agreements to lesser crimes.
Nelson also argues that Thomas’ office is losing trials to the Public Defender’s Office and that the acquittal rate is up, which, he claims, means that “he’s either falsely prosecuting or prosecuting incompetently.”
However, Thomas’ figures show and court sources confirm that the percentage of acquittals is virtually unchanged from that of his predecessor, Rick Romley. And the public defender’s numbers, on which Nelson bases his conclusions, provide an incomplete picture because they do not include the large number of cases handled by private defense attorneys on contract with the county to provide defense for indigents.
In other words, Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas is doing the job he was elected to do — and doing it exceptionally well. No wonder the daily newspaper, much as they might wish otherwise, has to credit him with numerous successes.