Purple Reign: Az. Dems Didn't Get Blue Wave, But They Did Get Another U.S. Senator

With a significant lead in the race for U.S. Senate over Republican Martha McSally, Democrat Mark Kelly took the outdoor stage at Hotel Congress on Election Night.

While Kelly stopped short of claiming victory, he did say he expected to go to Washington as a U.S. senator.

"This doesn't feel like a typical election night, and this hasn't been a typical year," Kelly said. "That's why tonight isn't about celebrating. Tonight is about getting to work."

Before bringing out his wife, former Southern Arizona congresswoman Gabby Giffords, and his two daughters, Kelly talked about his admiration for the late Sen. John McCain.

"It's not often that we get to meet our heroes, and it's even less often that you ever get to call them a friend. I got to do that with Senator McCain. And it meant so much to me," Kelly said. "Now, Senator McCain and I—we did not agree on everything. But I had such admiration for how he approached the responsibility of serving in this very Senate seat."

Kelly said the nation needed to focus on combatting the coronavirus, improving infrastructure and improving access to health care

A week later, on Tuesday, Nov. 10, the former NASA astronaut's victory over McSally was assured. With an estimated fewer than 70,000 ballots left to count, Kelly had won nearly 51 percent of the vote and was leading McSally by more than 83,000 votes.

McSally had not conceded as of press time. Both her official U.S. Senate and campaign Twitter accounts had been silent since Election Day.

McSally's defeat is her second loss in two years for the U.S. Senate. In 2018, the former A-10 pilot and Southern Arizona congresswoman lost to Democrat Kyrsten Sinema but was later appointed to the Senate to complete the term of McCain, who died in 2017.

The election capped a highly contentious battle between Kelly and McSally, with Kelly focusing on the need for an independent voice from Arizona in the Senate and McSally arguing that the former U.S. Navy combat pilot was a "Trojan horse" who would usher in a new age of socialism in the country.

Because the race is to complete McCain's term, Kelly will have to run for reelection in 2022.

Kelly's win might not have heralded a blue wave across the entire state, but Arizona definitely took on a purple hue. Democrat Joe Biden was holding a slim 14,000-vote lead over Republican President Donald Trump with fewer than 70,000 votes left to count and Democrats won nearly every office in Pima County. On the congressional level, Dems won five seats statewide, while Republicans won four, keeping the current balance of power. But Republicans held onto control of the Arizona Legislature despite a major campaign by Democrats to flip one or both chambers and look to be on track to win two of the three seats up for grabs on the Arizona Corporation Commission.

Pima County Board of Supervisors

In Pima County, the biggest upset of the night was for the District 1 seat on the Pima County Board of Supervisors.

With nearly all of Pima County's votes counted, Democrat Rex Scott was leading in the race to replace the retiring Supervisor Ally Miller on the Board of Supes.

Scott, a former school administrator, was holding a slim lead of just over 1 percentage point (or 1,854 votes) over Republican Steve Spain. If Scott's lead holds up, it would be the first time a Democrat has held the District 1 seat since the 1970s.

It would also mean four out of five seats on the Board of Supervisors will be held by Democrats next year.

In District 2, Democrat Matt Heinz, who defeated longtime Supervisor Ramon Valadez in the August primary, easily dispatched Republican Anthony Sizer, winning 68% of the vote.

In District 3, Democrat Sharon Bronson won a seventh term on the board after she captured 58% of the vote against GOP challenger Gabby Saucedo Mercer.

In District 4, incumbent GOP Supervisor Steve Christy is likely to be the sole Republican on the Board of Supervisors after he won 54% of the vote against Democratic challenger Steve Diamond.

In District 5, in the race for the open seat previously held by the late Supervisor Richard Elias, Democrat Adelita Grijalva defeated Republican Fernando Gonzales with 74% of the vote.

Pima County Line Offices

In a rematch of the 2016 race, Democratic challenger Chris Nanos was leading Republican Sheriff Mark Napier, the candidate he lost to four years ago. Nanos was leading by just over 1 percentage point and was ahead by 5,379 votes as of Monday, Nov. 9.

In the race for County Recorder, Democrat Gabriella Cázares-Kelly had 59% of the vote against Republican Benny White.

After trailing on Election Night, Republican Treasurer Beth Ford pulled ahead of Democrat Brian Bickel by less than 1 percentage point or 3,146 votes as of Monday morning.

Democrat Suzanne Droubie had won 58% of the vote against Republican Jo Ann Sabbagh in the race for County Assessor.

After winning a three-way primary race in August, Democrat Laura Conover was unopposed in the contest to replace Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWall, who is stepping down after six terms. County School Superintendent Dustin Williams was also unopposed in his bid for a second term.


Among the three Southern Arizona congressional seats, Democrats all won reelection.

In the sprawling Congressional District 1, which includes Oro Valley and Marana as well as Flagstaff, Northern Arizona reservations and much of rural Eastern Arizona, Democratic incumbent Tom O'Halleran defeated Republican challenger Tiffany Shedd by roughly 4 percentage points.

In Congressional District 2, Democratic Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick was defeating Republican challenger Martin Brandon by nearly 12 percentage points.

In Congressional District 3, Democratic Congressman Raul Grijalva clobbered Republican challenger Daniel Wood by 30 percentage points.

This is the last year that candidates will run under the existing congressional district boundaries. The Independent Redistricting Commission will draw new districts before the 2022 election.

Arizona Legislature

While Democrats didn't achieve their goal of winning one or both chambers of the Arizona Legislature, Democratic candidates prevailed in races in Tucson.

In Legislative District 9, which includes the Catalina Foothills, central Tucson and the Casas Adobes area, Democratic state Rep. Pamela Powers-Hannley and Democratic state Rep. Randy Friese both won 37% of the vote against GOP challenger Brendan Lyons, who had 27%. Meanwhile, state Sen. Victoria Steele was unopposed.

In Legislative District 10, the Democratic slate of state Rep. Domingo DeGrazia and political newcomer Stephanie Stahl Hamilton both won roughly 29% of the vote against the Republican slate of Michael Hicks (with 22%) and Mabelle Gummere (with 20%). Meanwhile, state Rep. Kirsten Engel had 59% of the vote against GOP challenger Justine Wadsack.

However, Republicans won in Legislative District 11, which includes Oro Valley and Marana as well Pinal County precincts and the town of Maricopa, In the race for two House seats, Republican state Rep. Bret Roberts and Republican state Rep. Mark Finchem had roughly 34% of the vote against Democratic challenger Felipe Perez, who had 31%. In the race for Senate, Republican incumbent Vince Leach led Democratic challenger JoAnna Mendoza with 54% of the vote.

Arizona Corporation Commission

With three seats up for the grabs on the Arizona Corporation Commission, one Democrat and two Republicans were in the lead.

Coming out on top was Democrat Anna Tovar, a former state lawmaker who had captured 1,432,993 votes as of Tuesday morning.

In second place was Republican Lea Marquez Peterson, the former president of the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Peterson, who was appointed to the ACC by Gov. Doug Ducey after she lost a 2018 campaign for Congress in Southern Arizona, had 1,429,788 votes.

James "Jim" O'Connor was in third place with 1,413,585 votes.

Tucson Unified School Board

In the race for three seats on the Tucson Unified School District Governing Board, the top vote getters were Natalie Luna Rose, Sadie Shaw and Ravi Grivois-Shah.

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