After conceding defeat early this morning in the race for the Pima County sheriff, Republican Mark Napier has reconsidered.
He plans to wait until some of the 60,000 or so uncounted ballots are tallied before deciding whether to bow out of the race.
Longtime Democratic Sheriff Clarence Dupnik has a 3-point lead in the race. He has 50 percent of the votes to Napier’s 47 percent. Green Party candidate Dave Croteau had 3.3 percent.
About 4.5 percent of Pima County voters left the sheriff's race blank on their ballots, according to data from the county elections office.
Dupnik, 76, declined to make a comment late Tuesday while at the Viscount Suite Hotel, 4855 E. Broadway, where he was gathered with law enforcement officers and others.
Dupnik was first elected sheriff in 1980 after retiring from the Tucson Police Department.
Napier, 50, began his 28-year law enforcement career in Iowa as a Special Weapons and Tactics training officer. He joined the Tucson Police Department in 1987 and retired from the TPD after 21 years with the rank of captain.
Early in the morning, Napier posted a message to supporters on Facebook.
"Tonight we lost our bid to become Sheriff of Pima County," he wrote. "No excuses, I lost. Apparently, I needed to be a better candidate. Sheriff Dupnik earned more support of the voters than I did. We ran a positive campaign and I have no regrets about doing so. I want to thank all of you who have supported me."
Dupnik will stay at the helm of the Sheriff's Department to oversee 1,500 employees and a budget of nearly $120 million.
Over the decades, Dupnik said, he cleaned and modernized the department and continues sending administrative staff and deputies to numerous training workshops each year.
"We have worked diligently to make this a first-class, professional law enforcement agency, and I'm very proud of it," Dupnik said in an earlier interview with the Star.
Napier campaigned on having open communication with the community.
He pledged to bring more visibility to the office of sheriff.
He also said he would reach out to his staff and the community for input in creating a more effective department.
Croteau is a native Tucsonan and a founder of the annual Nam Jam concert to benefit military veterans.
Croteau has run for office several times, and he is unwavering in his mission to legalize marijuana.
The race was relatively low-key, and the candidates faced off in a handful of forums.
In one, Dupnik said: "Law enforcement has been my life. Being the sheriff is one of the most satisfying and interesting jobs anywhere."
Napier countered that it was "time for a new sheriff. It's time for new leadership."
Both candidates addressed the recent incident in which Pima County jail employees were involved in a brutal fight outside a Tucson bar. Seven of the employees were subsequently fired.
Dupnik said he viewed the incident as an "aberration."
Napier said that if it had been one or two jail employees, it could be viewed as a couple of bad apples acting out. The large number of officers, however, "raises the warning bell of a larger problem," he said.
"We do a good job of reacting. We do not do a good job of figuring out how this happened."
Contact reporter Carmen Duarte at 573-4104 or email@example.com