Kicking off his campaign early – in February 2019 – may have put Jeffrey McClure on the path to victory on Election Day.
McClure, a Republican, was leading comfortably Wednesday in the race for Pinal County supervisor in District 4, with a 4,234-vote advantage over Independent Marlene Pearce, a Maricopa resident.
McClure has 18,418 votes (56.27%) to Pearce’s 14,184 votes (43.34%), according to unofficial tallies.
So far, early ballots make up nearly two-thirds of the total vote in the contest. McClure built a 769-vote lead in those early ballots, but pulled away at the polls Tuesday, stretching his lead as in-person votes were tabulated.
According to Pinal County Elections Department, there are 41,000 early ballots and 1,800 provisional ballots left to be counted. An update is not expected until Thursday.
McClure appeared to win in all but three Maricopa precincts.
“We did really well,” he said Wednesday afternoon. “There were a few precincts we didn’t get, but that is to be expected.”
The district, which encompasses a wide swath of western and southern Pinal County from Maricopa to Arizona City to the Pima County border, is losing its Republican incumbent. Anthony Smith, who serves as chairman of the Board of Supervisors, opted not to run for a third term.
McClure, a resident of the Saddlebrooke area, near Oracle, was the only Republican to run for the seat, and no Democrat ran.
Pearce, a Villages resident, has been the District 4 administrator alongside Smith for the past eight years. She did not immediately return a request for comment.
McClure said that while the pandemic made it more difficult to campaign in 2020, he had been connecting with voters through 2019. Once coronavirus hit, he did some advertising, he said, but also would meet voters where he could safely – showing up outside of Maricopa restaurants and attending truck rallies and other events, including last month’s groundbreaking for the Estrella Gin Business Park in Maricopa.
“We tried to reach out to everyone (in the district) and with COVID it was so difficult,” he said.
But McClure said he was able to get out the message that he would represent all of District 4, committing to opening a district office in Maricopa, where he will have regular hours and a full-time administrative assistant.
“I think that did resonate with people,” he said of a local office. One of his first priorities will be to hire that local staffer, he said.
McClure said he was still amazed by the support from Maricopa voters.
“Thank you so much for your support and putting your trust in me,” he said. “I’m really humbled.”