Kyrsten Sinema was declared winner of Arizona’s Senate race Monday night — flipping the state to Democrats six days after polls closed.
The 42-year-old, who has served in the U.S. House of Representatives since 2013, will become Arizona’s first female U.S. senator, replacing outgoing Republican Jeff Flake who did not seek re-election.
Sinema narrowly beat Republican Rep. Martha McSally, who was reportedly urged to claim voter fraud by her party and the White House as she fell behind. However, McSally ignored those calls and graciously conceded the race.
“I wish her success,” McSally said in a tweet Monday night. “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.”
The neck-and-neck contest was decided when newly counted votes from Maricopa and Pima Counties helped Sinema grow her lead over the weekend. By 5 p.m. Monday, Sinema led McSally by 38,197 votes or about 1.7 percentage points.
“Arizona rejected what has been far too common in our country — name calling, petty, personal attacks and doing and saying what it takes to get elected,” Sinema said in her victory speech. “But Arizona proved that there is a better way forward.”
The Congresswoman will be the first Democrat to hold the seat since 1994.
The White House and GOP attempted to muddy the waters in recent days, with the president complaining in a Friday tweet of “electoral corruption,” and calling for a new Arizona election — all without evidence.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee also weighed in, accusing the Maricopa County recorder of trying to “cook the books” in favor of the Democrat.
Yet Sinema’s win may not be a total disaster for Trump. She positioned herself as an independent during the campaign in the tradition of the late John McCain, and as a Congresswoman voted for bills backed by Trump more than 60 percent of the time.
McSally’s dignified concession in Arizona stands in contrast to the battle in Florida where Rick Scott — backed to the hilt by Trump — is boosting conspiracy theories about voter fraud and electoral theft in a bid to eke out a victory over his Democratic opponent Ron DeSantis.
Cover image: Democratic candidate Kyrsten Sinema speaks to supporters after officially winning the U.S. Senate race at the Omni Montelucia resort in Scottsdale, Arizona, U.S., November 12, 2018. (REUTERS/Caitlin O'Hara)