The Battle for Maricopa County Recorder May Be Fought on the Right Flank: Stephen Richer Will Have Challengers

County Recorder Stephen Richer walked a strange and fine line in his successful effort to oust former Recorder Adrian Fontes; he sometimes found himself flirting with election conspiracies, but his time in the office itself has largely been spent confirming the fidelity of our elections.

One could say that his shift was political expediency, one could say that the newfound insider information shifted his views, but either way there have been consequences for not consistently towing that line that helped vault him to the position in the first place.

As many know, he drew the ire of Kari Lake, which ended up extremely poorly for Lake; Richer filed a defamation suit, and Lake wouldn’t even defend her side of that suit, apparently preferring to pay up rather than to be on the record saying something that might anger her base. But while Richer deftly defeated that challenger, perhaps his biggest battles are in front of him in the form of a primary challenge.

Richer now finds himself embroiled in a three-way primary with state legislator Justin Heap and IT professional Don Hiatt. Both offer an intriguing potential challenge to Richer.

Heap’s website at the time of writing is as barebones as possible, simply showing buttons to sign his petition and donate, but his X profile shows the clear intent to tap into the base’s belief of nefarious activities at the Recorder’s office, touting a desire to implement transparency and an endorsement from Kari Lake. Hiatt’s bid is clearly more of a long-shot as a newcomer to politics. However, his website talks about his experience in IT architecture, probably something that would come in handy to improve historically antiquated government databases.

That said, in a three-way race where 34% of the primary vote could hypothetically be enough,the name identification that Richer possesses may be enough to carry the day. While suspicion of the voting process remains considerable amongst Republican voters, the establishment’s recent unhappiness with Kari Lake cuts into the gravitas of that endorsement for Heap.

The winner of this primary will go on to face Democrat Tim Stringham in the general election, which is certain to not be a cakewalk either. Recorder Richer has his work cut out for him over the next seven months.