Nov. 13 (UPI) — Democrat Kyrsten Sinema claimed Arizona’s U.S. Senate seat Monday against Republican rival Marta McSally, who conceded.
Sinema had built a seemingly insurmountable 38,000-vote lead in the race pitting two members of the U.S. House against each other.
“As long as I’ve served Arizona, I’ve worked to help others see our common humanity & find common ground,” Sinema posted on Facebook on Monday night. “That’s the same approach I’ll take to representing our great state in the Senate, where I’ll be an independent voice for all Arizonans. Thank you, Arizona. Let’s get to work.”
McSally, who had a small lead on election night last Tuesday, wrote on Twitter: “I wish her success. I’m grateful to all those who supported me in this journey. I’m inspired by Arizonans’ spirit and our state’s best days are ahead of us.”
On Monday night, Sinema had a 1.7 percentage point lead with 1,097,321 votes to McSally’s 1,059,124, according to secretary of state website. The Arizona Republic estimated 170,000 votes remained to be counted, mainly mail-in ballots that are counted in a labor-intensive process.
McSally would have to win those remaining votes by nearly 23 percentage points to retake the lead, the newspaper noted.
“The Sinema campaign did the math that they needed to do to win and did everything to get there, and didn’t allow themselves to get distracted,” Democratic strategist Andy Barr said to the Arizona Republic. “She had a very narrow path and needed to do everything right to win, and did it.”
Among the uncounted votes, 95 percent are in Maricopa and Pima counties, the Arizona Republic noted.
The 42-year-old Democrat will become the first woman in the state’s 106-year-old history to take a U.S. Senate seat. She will replace Republican Jeff Flake, who chose not to seek a second six-year term.
“Congratulations to @kyrstensinema on a race well run, and won. It’s been a wonderful honor representing Arizona in the Senate. You’ll be great,” Flake posted on Twitter.
Sinema built her strength in the state’s urban areas, including a 48,000-vote lead in Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix, 659,540 to 611,161. In Pima County, which includes Tucscon, she led by 52,000 votes, 206,610 to 154,340.
The website said the voter turnout was 60.06 percent of the 3,716,161 registered voters.
“Arizonans rejected what has become far too common in our country: name calling, petty, personal attacks, doing and saying whatever it takes just to get elected,” Sinema said to supporters in Scottsdale. “It’s dangerous, and it lessens who we are as a country. Arizona proved that there is a better way forward.”
President Donald Trump has criticized the vote-counting in the state as well as in Florida, where recounts are underway for U.S. Senate and governor, currently led by Republicans.
On Friday, Trump posted on Twitter: “Just out — in Arizona, SIGNATURES DON’T MATCH. Electoral corruption — Call for a new Election? We must protect our Democracy!”
Flake dismissed Trump’s allegations.
“There is no evidence of ‘electoral corruption’ in Arizona, Mr. President,” tweeted Flake, who has clashed with the president numerous times on different issues. “Thousands of dedicated Arizonans work in a non-partisan fashion every election cycle to ensure that every vote is counted. We appreciate their service.”
The U.S. Senate will be composed of 53 Republicans, 45 Democrats and 2 independents who caucus with the minority party if Republican Rick Scott replaces incumbent Bill Nelson after the recount. That will mean a pickup of two Republican seats with the GOP flipping four spots.
The only other race to switch to the Democrats was in Nevada, where Jacky Rosen ousted Dean Heller.