- Jim Nintzel
- Congressman Ron Barber: "We have many important decisions to make, and in order to make those decisions and do what's right, we have to find compromise and we have to find bipartisanship."
In a room packed with roughly 200 supporters, Congressman Ron Barber declared victory on Saturday afternoon.
"It's been a long wait, but here we are," Barber told the crowd just after 3 p.m. "I want to thank you all for coming out and helping us celebrate today."
An hour earlier across town, Republican challenger Martha McSally had conceded the race to Barber.
- Jim Nintzel
- Republican Martha McSally compared the lengthy vote count to running the Iron Man triathlon "and coming up on the finish line, only to find out you had to run another 10K."
The twin speeches brought an end to a race that had run into overtime as officials in both Cochise and Pima county tabulated ballots. Although Barber had taken an early lead when the first ballots were counted on Election Day, McSally had roared in from behind and led the race by more than a thousand votes on the day after the election.
Over the next few days, the vote count moved back and forth, with Barber gaining ground as Pima County completed a batch of ballots and McSally retaking the lead when Cochise County tabulated its ballots. On Friday, Nov. 9, McSally's lead was a mere 36 votes.
Barber took the lead on Saturday, Nov. 10, and hung onto it from that point forward. When Cochise County finished counting its ballots on Thursday, Nov. 15, Barber had a lead of 709 votes. When Pima County finished its first major count of provisional ballots on Friday, Nov. 16, his lead climbed to 1,402 ballots.
Although Pima County still has 14,000 provisional ballots to count, McSally saw the trend was moving in Barber's direction.
"We came so close," said McSally, a former Air Force combat pilot who had been stationed at Davis-Monthan between deployments.
McSally said the tight finish "reminds me of running the Iron Man triathlon … and coming up on the finish line, only to find out you had to run another 10K. It's horrible feeling, but I'll tell you: Our team and everybody who's been supporting us through the last 11 days has been extraordinary."