Live Blog: Nez wins Navajo primary; Steele, Gonzales open leads for Senate seats

Jonathan Nez took a commanding lead for first place in the Navajo Nation presidential primary. Joe Shirley and Tom Chee were second and third. (Campaign photo via Twitter.)

Updated at 12:04 am; Navajo Nation reports Jonathan Nez and Joe Shirley in primary lead; Arizona counting remains slow

12:04 am Arizona Secretary of State's election report is stuck at 6 percent reporting.

We have seen this movie before. So ... we are going to go to bed. And we will start again first in the morning.

We will update all of the races by 8 am Eastern.

Thanks for tuning in. (Comments welcome). -- Mark

11:59 pm Navajo Nation Nearly all of the chapters have reported in and Navajo Vice President has a commanding lead. Former President Joe Shirley is still in second and Tom Chee is in third.

11:45 pm Arizona. AP has called the governor's race for David Garcia. He will face incumbent Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican.

One tricky area for Garcia will be who he appoints to take the seat of the late John McCain. It's a tough one. If he picks someone considered "moderate" it could spur conservative voters to stay home in November or to vote for a third-party candidate. If he picks someone considerate too conservative, he could lose votes from moderates and independents. The person Ducey choses will serve the remainder of McCain's term in the U.S. Senate.

11:30 pm Arizona. We have numbers.

Victoria Steele was far ahead of her opponent, Jim Love. She had more than 80 percent of the vote reported.

Rep. Sally Ann Gonzales has a lead in her campaign for a Senate seat.

​Statewide only about 6 percent of the votes have been tallied, but it's a much higher percentage in some of these legislative races.

NBC News has projected that Rep. Martha McSally is the winner of the #AZSEN Republican Primary. McSally will now face Kyrsten Sinema in the November General Election.

Sinema holds a 4 point lead over McSally. #AZVotes

11:15 pm Navajo Nation. ​Jonathan Nez gave a victory speech at the Window Rock Sports Center. Nez is in first place by more than 3,000 votes. "This is a grass roots campaign, ladies and gentleman." He said they went door to door and campaigned across the Navajo Nation. He said he was eager to take his message into the general campaign. Nez is the Navajo Nation's Vice President.

Joe Shirley was in second, followed by Tom Chee.

The top two finishers will be on the November ballot.

Latest numbers:

11 pm Navajo Nation. ​Two candidates are pulling away with a little more than half of the chapters reporting, Jonathan Nez and Joe Shirley.

Lots of zeros. Zero percent. Zero precincts.

There is a live Facebook feed from the Jonathan Nez campaign where votes are being reported (and entertainment). But it's not that useful. (It's just a lot of votes coming in fast; 49 chapters so far.)

​​

10:45 pm Too bad elections aren't all on eastern time. (Ok. That would be convenient for me.) No numbers yet from Arizona.

It's worth mentioning that the national media is focused on the state's U.S. Senate race. As FiveThirtyEight posted a few minutes ago: "All eyes will be on the Republican primary for U.S. Senate here, although it’s not looking like much of a race: establishment-favored Rep. Martha McSally comfortably leads former state Sen. Kelli Ward and former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who both hail from the hard-right flank of the party." We shall see if the actual results back that up.

Shortly.

10:30 pm

While we wait for early numbers, I want to mention a race where there is not a Native American on the ballot.

Arizona’s first congressional district is the nearest thing to an American Indian majority district. (Arizona did all it could to prevent Native Americans from voting. It’s only been since 1970 when a court opened up election rolls.) The population of the district is 724,868; and 23.2 percent of that is American Indian. Four years ago that number was about 22 percent and unless the district lines change, those numbers will continue to rise.

Two Native women have already run for this seat, Mary Kim Titla in 2008 and Wenona Benally Baldenegro in 2012. Titla, San Carlos Apache, is now the executive director of the tribal youth organization, UNITY, INC. Baldenegro is a Navajo and a Harvard-educated attorney. Both lost in the primary — and that’s the challenge for this district.

Also it would not be an Arizona election without questions about the process. Several reports on Twitter about people being turned away in Maricopa County. Long lines were reported in Tempe and there were problems with machines at at least four sites. Yet, according to the Arizona Republic, the county recorder says the problems are nothing like what happened in 2016. Hmm.

Arizona races we are watching tonight.

Arizona's 9th district. Former Rep. Victoria Steele, Seneca, is running against for the state Senate seat against Jim Love.

Arizona's 3rd district. Rep. Sally Ann Gonzales, Pascua Yaqui, faces Betty Villegas in the primary.

And Debbie Nez Manuel, Navajo, versus Juan Mendez in the 26th district.

Incumbent Sen. Jamescita Peshlakai, Navajo, is unopposed in the primary.

Think about how remarkable this is: Four Native women running for a state Senate seat. That's enough to caucus. That's enough votes to change the outcome of legislation. That's a say in the government.

Election results are expected to be slow tonight because of the earlier problems in Maricopa County.

Early Navajo Nation numbers:

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