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Election Results Are Still Coming Out Of Arizona


As we wait for Hillary Clinton's concession speech, this is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. With Renee Montagne, I'm Steve Inskeep.


And I'm David Greene. We are trying to make sense of election results from around the country last night. And one of the states we're focusing on is the state of Arizona. John McCain retained his Senate seat in that state. Donald Trump looks to be on his way to winning the state, although votes are still being counted. Yet the tough-on-immigration Sheriff Joe Arpaio lost his seat in Maricopa County. NPR's Kirk Siegler is in Maricopa County, actually in downtown Phoenix, and joins us on the line.

Kirk, good morning.

KIRK SIEGLER, BYLINE: Good morning, David.

GREENE: So remind us about Joe Arpaio. I mean, it's not often that a sheriff gains such nationwide attention, but he certainly has.

SIEGLER: He did, for sure, starting really back in 2010 when Arizona passed a slate of laws cracking down on illegal immigration in the state. As you said, he's billed himself as America's toughest sheriff. I interviewed him a couple of months ago here during the primary. He was as defiant as ever. He's served for six terms. He's 84 years old.

And - but, you know, just before the election and, you know - for many, many years, rather, he's been, you know, facing charges of - accusations of racial profiling, corruption in the jails. And just before the election, he was charged with federal contempt of court for defying a judge's order to stop racially profiling Latinos. So it's an interesting twist in an otherwise interesting or national narrative that went the other direction. But right here in Maricopa County, in Phoenix - in fact, in a couple of hours from now, Latino activists and opponents of Sheriff Joe Arpaio will rally right here where I'm standing and celebrate a small victory, they say.

GREENE: Celebrate because he's lost his job. Who beat him?

SIEGLER: Paul Penzone. He's a retired Phoenix police sergeant who challenged Arpaio, actually, back in 2012 as well and is now looking as though he's beat him by about 10 points. Locally, I think, so far, a lot of the credit is going to the ground game of Hispanics and Democratic groups getting out the vote here in Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix and greater Phoenix. And, you know, Democrats in particular really thought this was going to be the year that Arizona turned purple if not blue.

GREENE: Yeah. I was going to say - I mean, it sounds like there's sort of a confusing narrative here because, you know, this against a tough immigration stance kicked Sheriff Joe Arpaio out. There was a lot of hope that Latino support for Hillary Clinton would deliver her that state or give her a chance. But Trump won big, so how do you make sense of all that?

SIEGLER: I'm not sure anybody has yet. You know, this is just another example of how truly interesting, if not bizarre, this year has been politically. There's a lot of disappointment among Democrats and Latino activists, I think, this morning here. You know, they're in this weird position of celebrating Arpaio's defeat but sort of contending with the national results, like you say.

I also think, David, there is some - a good deal of soul searching going on among moderate Republicans here who I've been talking to. Last night, I hung out at Senator McCain's watch party, which was actually separate from the Arizona GOP's watch party. And there I met...

GREENE: Well, that tells you something.

SIEGLER: Yeah, exactly. And I met a young businessman - young Republican named Brian Ko. He's a staunch McCain supporter. But he told me he ended up, in the end, casting a reluctant vote for Hillary Clinton, so let's hear a little bit of him.

BRIAN KO: We have Trump. Based off of his behavior, his characteristics, it doesn't seem very presidential. It doesn't seem like somebody I would trust to make important decisions on my behalf.

GREENE: It's almost like you're seeing that the moderate Republicans are - or if there is some sort of tension between moderate Republicans and Trump Republicans, you're seeing it play out there.

SIEGLER: Oh, you definitely are. And among prominent business leaders - the head of the chamber here in Arizona has, you know - had come out against Trump. And there's a lot of concern about, you know, where...

GREENE: Right.

SIEGLER: ...The party goes from here locally. So we'll...

GREENE: We'll have to step in there. NPR's Kirk's Siegler in Phoenix - thanks, Kirk.

SIEGLER: Glad to do it, David.

GREENE: And this is MORNING EDITION from NPR News with Renee Montagne and Steve Inskeep. I'm David Greene. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

As a correspondent on NPR's national desk, Kirk Siegler covers rural life, culture and politics from his base in Boise, Idaho.