PHOENIX (Legal Newsline) - The Republican race for Arizona attorney general remains a close one.

According to local news Web site azcentral.com, state Superintendent of Schools Tom Horne took the lead from former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas Wednesday morning -- coming from behind after being down by approximately 9,000 votes earlier Tuesday.

As of 5:55 a.m. Wednesday, Horne had a lead of 373 votes with 13 of 15 counties reporting, according to the secretary of state's election website.

At one point late Tuesday night, Thomas had a 2,000-vote lead on Horne, according to the Phoenix Business Journal. Then, the margin decreased to 1,000 votes and it continued to dwindle.

It wasn't until early Wednesday morning that Horne was showing a small lead over Thomas. As of 5 a.m., Horne had 49.77 percent of the votes, while Thomas held 49.69 percent.

The two have been in a nasty race for several months.

Thomas, 43, had spent the primary season painting Horne as an untrustworthy liberal. Meanwhile, Horne, 65, said Thomas was an out-of-control prosecutor and a threat to citizens' constitutional rights.

Thomas, 43, ran as a proven crime fighter, saying crime had dropped by 19 percent during his time as county attorney. He said that he best represented Republican values in the race, taking strong positions against illegal immigration and abortion.

Horne, state superintendent since 2003, touted his 30 years as an attorney in private practice. He began working as a special assistant attorney general in the 1980s, helping the state with commercial litigation.

The race, the Journal said, could go down to early ballots dropped off at polling places Tuesday. The outcome likely won't be known for several days, officials said.

The Democratic primary also was tight as former state financial regulator Felecia Rotellini held a slight lead over state Rep. David Lujan, various media outlets reported.

The candidates are vying to replace current Attorney General Terry Goddard. Goddard is running for governor.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by e-mail at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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