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Kyrsten Sinema wins Arizona Senate election

November 13, 2018

Democrats netted another Senate seat Monday night after Republican Martha McSally conceded Arizona’s race to Democrat Kyrsten Sinema.

Along with Nevada, that makes two GOP-held Senate seats that will be Democratic next year. Republicans, meanwhile, netted three seats are their candidate is leading though facing a recount in a fourth race, in Florida.

With her victory Ms. Sinema becomes the first Democrat to win a Senate seat in Arizona in nearly a quarter century.

She’s also the first openly bisexual person to be elected to the Senate, gay-rights group Human Rights Campaign said.

Ms. McSally had led the count on election night but as more ballots were counted, Ms. Sinema took the lead. As of Monday night she was nearly 40,000 votes, or nearly 2 percentage points, ahead.

“I just called Kyrsten Sinema and congratulated her on becoming Arizona’s first female senator,” Ms. McSally said in a video message posted to Twitter.

Both women are current members of the U.S. House.

Ms. Sinema was first elected in 2012 and has built one of the more moderate voting records for Democrats, including voting for some Republican immigration crackdown bills, and for some of the GOP-written tweaks to Obamacare.

Yet her past as a liberal activities in protesting the Iraq war and mocking her state’s Republican political leaders repeatedly reared during the campaign.

By contrast Ms. McSally was a groundbreaking Air Force pilot flying A-10 Warthogs.

President Trump, who backed Ms. McSally in the race, had said voters would have an easy time picking between someone who served in the military and someone who protested.

Late last week, as Arizona’s slow counting process continued and the vote totals tipped in Ms. Sinema’ favor, the president had suggested funny business.

“Call for a new election?” he said on Twitter.

But Arizona officials refuted that, saying it was just Arizona’s normal method of counting.

Analysts said Ms. Sinema won by careful campaigning. While not a fan of Mr. Trump, they said, she avoided harsh criticism of him in GOP-leaning Arizona. By contrast Democrats’ gubernatorial candidate, David Garcia, campaigned as a liberal anti-Trump champion, and lost by 15 percentage points to incumbent Gov. Doug Ducey.

Ms. Sinema was also one of the Democrats who successfully deployed a health care attack against Republicans, pointing to Ms. McSally’s enthusiastic support for repeal of Obamacare. Analysts said that siphoned away some of the GOP’s traditional strong support among older voters in Arizona.

With two races yet to be called, Republicans will hold 51 seats in the Senate next year the same total as now.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott leads in the race for Senate there over three-term incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat. If that holds up the GOP would be at 52 seats.

And Mississippi will hold a runoff election later this month for a Senate seat. The Republican is favored in that race, too.

If the GOP wins both, it would expand its majority by two seats heading into next year.

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