Rep. Martha McSally held a lead as the first votes were counted Tuesday night in Arizona’s GOP Senate primary, in the battle to succeed retiring Sen. Jeff Flake.
She had slightly more than 50 percent of the vote in the three-way race, outdistancing former state lawmaker Kelli Ward and former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
The winner will face Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, the winner on the Democratic side, who analysts say likely begins the general election race with a slight edge.
The race for Mr. Flake’s seat is one of the critical battles as the GOP seeks to defend its control of the Senate this year. Should Republicans win here in November, it leaves Democrats with few options to win the seats they need.
All three of the candidates had embraced President Trump in the race though he didn’t bless any of them as his preferred pick.
Still, Ms. McSally is seen as the more establishment-minded candidate, and is seen giving the GOP its best chance of holding the seat, if she can consolidate her party after the nasty primary.