The Latest: McSally-Sinema Senate race too close to call

November 7, 2018 GMT
1 of 17
Republican Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, R, embraces Cindy McCain, wife of the late U.S. Sen. John McCain, while speaking to supporters, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, at an election night party in Scottsdale, Ariz. Incumbent Ducey defeated Democratic challenger David Garcia for his second term. (AP Photo/Matt York)
1 of 17
Republican Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, R, embraces Cindy McCain, wife of the late U.S. Sen. John McCain, while speaking to supporters, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, at an election night party in Scottsdale, Ariz. Incumbent Ducey defeated Democratic challenger David Garcia for his second term. (AP Photo/Matt York)

PHOENIX (AP) — The Latest on Arizona’s midterm election (all times local):

2 a.m.

The extremely tight race between Republican Martha McSally and Democrat Krysten Sinema is too close to call.

The two were separated early Wednesday by a small fraction of the votes tabulated, with hundreds of thousands of uncounted ballots still outstanding.

Most Arizona voters cast their ballots early by mail. Those who receive early ballots but then drop them off in person at polling stations on or close to Election Day can jam up the system.

That’s because the state’s most populous county, Maricopa, can take days to count those ballots while they simultaneously tabulate Election Day votes.

The so-called “late earlies” may not be counted until Thursday by the county.



11:27 p.m.

Republican Debbie Lesko has won a full term in Congress representing the 8th District in suburban Phoenix.

Lesko beat Democratic challenger Hiral Tipirneni in a rematch of an April special election.

Lesko won that race by 5 percentage points in a district that President Donald Trump won by 21 points.

Lesko and Tipirneni battled to replace Republican Rep. Trent Franks after he resigned amid sexual misconduct allegations.

Tipirneni campaigned on ensuring good health care coverage for residents. She worked as an emergency room doctor for a decade before becoming a cancer research advocate and holds an active physician’s license.

Lesko is a former state lawmaker who is aligned with Trump.


10:25 p.m.

Republican businessman and novice politician Steve Gaynor has won the race to become Arizona’s next secretary of state, defeating an experienced Arizona Democrat.

Gaynor spent nearly $2 million of his own money to beat state Sen. Minority Leader Katie Hobbs.

Gaynor emphasized his business experience as the owner of a Los Angeles printing plant. Critics labeled him a wealthy donor who paid his way into the race.

He defeated current Secretary of State Michele Reagan in the August primary after saying her tenure was riddled with missteps.

The secretary of state’s office handles voter registration and candidate filing. The secretary of state serves as acting governor when the governor leaves the state.

The secretary of state is also first in line to succeed the governor if the governor becomes incapacitated, leaves office or dies.



10:20 p.m.

Navajo Nation Vice President Jonathan Nez has a significant lead over his contender in the race for the top post with the tribe.

Nez had about double the votes of former two-term President Joe Shirley Jr. in the non-partisan election with nearly all precincts reporting.

But the election was marred by widespread reports of ballot shortages. It was unclear late Tuesday how election officials would factor that into the race.

The Navajo Nation is the largest Native American reservation in the U.S., stretching into Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.

Outgoing President Russell Begaye did not advance beyond the primary.


10:15 p.m.

Arizona Republican Gov. Doug Ducey has told people at his re-election victory party that he will work for everyone in the state during his second term, whether they voted for him or not.

He says his goal over the past four years has been “to be a governor for all the people, without regard for party affiliation.”

Ducey spoke after returns showed him beating Democrat challenger David Garcia by a wide margin.

Garcia conceded defeat during a phone call with Ducey.

The campaign focused on public education and border issues.

Ducey said night the debate between him and Garcia “could not have been more spirited.”


10:02 p.m.

It appears the Phoenix mayoral race will be decided by a runoff election early next year.

Unofficial results Tuesday night showed Kate Gallego and Daniel Valenzuela as the top vote-getters, but neither had at least 50 percent plus one vote to win.

Gallego was at 45 percent and Valenzuela at 26 percent.

The other candidates who ran were Moses Sanchez and Nicholas Sarwark.

A runoff if needed has been scheduled for March 12.

The special election was held to replace Greg Stanton, who left office in May to run for U.S. Congress. He was elected Tuesday night.

Phoenix councilwoman Thelda Williams has been serving as temporary mayor and will continue until the runoff election.


9:59 p.m.

Arizona voters have approved a measure that changes how yearly cost of living increases are calculated for retired corrections officers and elected officials.

Proposition 125 was put on the ballot to approve changes to the underfunded pension systems approved by the Legislature last year.

The current method for calculating those increases in the corrections officer and elected officials retirement plans was hurting the financial stability of the retirement funds by allowing large increases in years the fund earned large returns.

That prevented the funds from boosting their balances during years of high investment returns.

New yearly increases will be pegged to the consumer price index, with a 2 percent increase cap annually.

The plan for elected officials including judges and state lawmakers was closed to new members several years ago.


9:55 p.m.

Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich has won his re-election bid against Democratic challenger January Contreras, a former county and state prosecutor.

Brnovich (BURN-oh-vitch) was first elected as attorney general in 2014and has emphasized his office’s prosecution of “would-be terrorists” and people accused of sex crimes with children.

He previously prosecuted high profile cases with the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office’s gang and repeat offender unit.

Contreras prosecuted fraud and abuse in the health care system before founding a not-for-profit legal aid organization.

Brnovich was criticized for including Arizona in a national legal battle to repeal part of the Affordable Care Act.

Contreras was targeted with attack ads over patient neglect a decade ago at an Arizona home for elderly veterans when she was a gubernatorial health policy adviser.


9:51 p.m.

Republican Kimberly Yee has been elected Arizona’s treasurer and will oversee the state’s estimated $15 billion investment portfolio and banking services.

Yee is the Republican majority leader of Arizona’s Senate. She faced Democratic property-tax attorney Mark Manoil in Tuesday’s vote.

Yee has promised to be a watchdog for taxpayers and describes herself as a fiscal conservative with a record of cutting unnecessary government spending.

Manoil has stressed the need for cities to build wealth locally and not be subject to the whims of Wall Street.

He has called for the building of a public community banking system in Arizona to generate affordable borrowing options for college students and others who do not have easy credit access.


9:48 p.m.

Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick has won a southern Arizona congressional seat that had been held by Republicans for four years.

Kirkpatrick’s victory over Republican Lea Marquez Peterson to win the 2nd Congressional District seat was critical to Democrats’ efforts to win control of the U.S. House.

The seat was vacant after Republican Rep. Martha McSally decided to run for the U.S. Senate seat held by the retiring GOP Sen. Jeff Flake.

The swing district that takes in much of Democrat-heavy Tucson and more Republican areas of Cochise County is a key battleground as Democrats attempt to take back control of the U.S. House.

Kirkpatrick previously represented the 1st District during two separate stints in Congress.

She was criticized by Peterson for her lack of ties to the area.


9:17 p.m.

Arizona voters have approved a measure that will limit the authority of the state commission that provides public financing to political candidates and give the governor more oversight over the commission.

The changes to state law will allow the governor to reject rules proposed by the members of the Citizens Clean Elections Commission and will prevent candidates from spending public funds on political party services.

Proposition 306 was put on the ballot by the Republican-controlled Legislature in its latest effort to mute the commission’s power. The independent panel finances candidates who reject private financing and fundraising and enforces campaign finance disclosure rules.

Passage of the measure means that regulations proposed by the bipartisan commission created by voters in 1998 can now be overturned by a panel overseen by the governor.


9:10 p.m.

Republican Gov. Doug Ducey has been re-elected as Arizona’s governor in a race that focused on border security and education.

Ducey’s challenger was Democrat David Garcia, an education professor and fourth generation Arizona Latino.

Public education was a key issue in a state where an unprecedented May teacher strike shut down public schools for nearly a week as teachers demanded higher pay and more educational funding. The teachers returned to class after Ducey signed a plan for teacher pay raises that will reach 20 percent by 2020, including 1 percent granted during the past budget year.

Ducey’s campaign outspent Garcia’s many times over and included millions of dollars in ads by the Republican Governors Association portraying Garcia as weak on border security.

Ducey was first elected governor in 2014.


9:06 p.m.

Arizona voters have rejected a massive expansion of the state’s private school voucher program criticized as a move to drain money from public schools and give it to rich parents to fund their kids’ private school tuition.

Proposition 305 was placed on Tuesday’s ballot after educators collected enough signatures to block the 2017 expansion championed by Republican Gov. Doug Ducey.

Opponents said it would siphon hundreds of millions of dollars from already-underfunded public schools.

Supporters said the expansion would give parents more school choice and boost public education accountability.

The state currently has a relatively small voucher program that lets some parents take state money and spend it on private schools.

The 2017 law expands eligibility to all students by 2022 but caps enrollment at about 30,000.


8:54 p.m.

Former Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton has won a Phoenix-area U.S. House seat.

The Democrat beat Republican Steve Ferrera to represent the 9th District that covers parts of Phoenix and Tempe.

Stanton resigned as mayor to run for the office after Democratic incumbent Kyrsten Sinema launched her run for the U.S. Senate seat held by retiring GOP Sen. Jeff Flake.

Ferrera is a former Navy doctor who now works for the Veterans Affairs Administration.

The 9th District was drawn as a new district prior to the 2012 election and designed to be competitive.

But Democrats have won every election since its creation.


8:49 p.m.

Arizona voters have approved a ballot measure launched by the Arizona Association of Realtors that prohibits the Legislature from taxing business services.

Supporters of Proposition 126 said they wanted the ban because taxes on services would hurt economic growth and amount to double-taxation on profits from services that already are subjected to income taxes.

The measure prevents officials at the state, county and city government levels from imposing new or increased taxes on services not already in effect by December 31, 2017.

It was opposed by Republican Gov. Doug Ducey, his Democratic opponent David Garcia and a bipartisan array of interest groups.

They argued putting the ban in the state Constitution would handcuff future Legislatures and governors who may need to make adjustments to the state sales tax.

They pointed to the decreasing percentage of the economy that is subject to current sales taxes.


8:44 p.m.

Arizona voters have rejected a measure requiring regulated utilities to obtain 50 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources like solar or wind power by 2030.

Proposition 127 was fiercely opposed by the state’s largest utility, Arizona Public Service.

The utility’s parent company spent more than $25 million to oppose the measure, arguing it would raise consumer costs by as much as $1,000 a year per customer annually and hurt the reliability of the state’s electrical grid.

The Clean Energy for a Healthy Arizona proposal was backed by solar advocates in Arizona with funding from San Francisco billionaire Tom Steyer.

Initiative supporters say Arizona hasn’t taken advantage of its role as the sunniest state in U.S. to develop more solar energy. California’s Legislature enacted a similar measure in 2015.


8:38 p.m.

Five Arizona congressmen have easily won their re-election bids.

Democrat Raul Grijalva won a 9th term representing a southwest Arizona congressional district after easily defeating his Republican challenger. Grijalva beat Republican Nick Person in the 3rd Congressional District race.

Democrat Ruben Gallego dominated in southwest Phoenix’s 7th District in a race with only token opposition.

Republican Andy Biggs beat Democrat Joan Green in the heavily GOP 5th District representing southeastern Phoenix suburbs. Republican David Schweikert beat Anita Malik to win a 5th term representing the 6th District in northeastern Phoenix suburbs.

Republican Paul Gosar beat Democrat David Brill in the 4th District that covers northwestern Arizona.

That race featured six of Gosar’s siblings attacking their brother in an ad and endorsing Brill.


7:45 p.m.

The director of the Navajo Nation election office says some precincts ran out of ballots.

Edbert Little says more ballots are being delivered so that people can vote in the tribal election.

Navajos are electing a new president and representatives to the Tribal Council. They’re also voting on whether to increase the salaries of the top two elected leaders.

Little says the election office ordered more than enough ballots for the 110 precincts for the vast reservation in Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.

He attributed the ballot shortage to machines that rejected the paper ballots. He says some voters had to be given replacement ballots.

Polls closed on the Navajo Nation at 7 p.m. but voters still in line and waiting for ballot deliveries will be allowed to vote.

About 98,000 Navajos were registered to vote.


7 p.m.

Polls have closed in Arizona.

Election officials forecast turnabout of about 60 percent.

That’s a sign of unusually high interest in the midterm election. The top race in the state is the neck-and-neck U.S. Senate race between Republican Rep. Martha McSally and Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema.

Republican Gov. Doug Ducey is also up for re-election. His challenger is Democratic education professor David Garcia. Statewide officers from attorney general to corporation commissioner are also on the ballot.

A GOP-backed measure would allow the expansion of a school voucher program. A Democratic-backed one would increase the state’s renewable energy standards.


6:55 p.m.

A judge has denied a request from voter rights groups to force Maricopa County to keep polls open past the normal 7 p.m. close because some people had problems voting.

State Elections Director Eric Spencer says the request was denied Tuesday evening and polls will close as scheduled. Anyone in line at 7 p.m. will be able to cast a ballot.

The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors had earlier denied a request from several advocacy groups to extend voting.

Board spokesman Fields Moseley said keeping the polls open late would be unprecedented and could confuse voters, delay returns and have unintended consequences.

Students on the Arizona State University campus in Tempe have waited in long lines most of the day and scattered problems were reported elsewhere.


6:50 p.m.

Voter turnout in the Phoenix and surrounding area is projected to be over 60 percent in Tuesday’s general election.

That’s much higher than the 45 percent turnout for the last mid-term election in November 2014.

Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes says in Facebook event Tuesday evening that the high turnout has resulted in long lines at some polling stations.

He said the state’s most populous county has had more than 242,000 in-person voters, a record. Arizona State University in Tempe saw continuously long lines.

Fontes says there were some technical glitches and a couple of locations that didn’t open on time because poll workers were locked out of the buildings.

A few advocacy groups asked the county board of supervisors to keep polling locations open past 7 p.m., but the board declined.


6:25 p.m.

The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors will not keep polls open past 7 p.m. after several advocacy groups complained some voters had issues casting ballots.

Board spokesman Fields Moseley said keeping the polls open late would be unprecedented and could confuse voters, delay returns and have unintended consequences.

Students on the Arizona State University campus in Tempe have waited in long lines most of the day, and several advocacy groups called on the supervisors to keep polls open beyond 7 p.m.

Feminist Majority, a group that works with students on voting rights, said the nine voting stations at the campus polling location were not sufficient.

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law said that technology glitches and printing problems meant some people could not vote.


6:10 p.m.

The Arizona Republican Party is demanding that all of the state’s 15 county recorders not work to verify signatures on early ballots dropped off at the polls on Election Day if an initial review finds the signature doesn’t match what’s on file.

The letter sent to the recorders also claims that emergency voting centers in Maricopa County and possibly other counties that opened this weekend were illegal. The letter signed by Party Chairman Jonathan Lines asks the recorders not to count any of those votes.

The Republicans’ attorney says there is no legal basis for trying to confirm problematic early ballot signatures after polls close Tuesday. Kory Langhofer also says the “emergency voting centers” were opened without an emergency.

An attorney who represents some Democrats calls the Republican letter an effort at voter suppression.


4 p.m.

Police in the Phoenix suburb of Goodyear say a man has been arrested for allegedly carrying a BB gun into a polling place and filming inside the venue.

They say 37-year-old Brad Luebke was caught filming inside the Desert Springs Community Church at about 12:35 p.m. Tuesday.

Arizona law which prohibits filming within 75 feet (23 meters) of polling locations.

Police say polling officials and officers tried to tell Luebke about the laws and that he was arrested after refusing to leave the polling location.

They say Luebke was wearing the BB gun holstered on his hip.

Police say he faces three counts of disorderly conduct, one count of misconduct involving weapons and one count of recording within 75 feet of a polling place.

It’s unclear if Luebke has a lawyer yet.


1:35 p.m.

Information technology worker Keith Cook used to be a Republican but says he changed to Democrat during the 1980s because he felt the GOP was too aligned with the Christian right and excluding others.

The 53-year-old Cook says issues weighing on him include the environment, global warming and how to care for the homeless.

As a Christian, he said the decline of political discourse with Donald Trump as president disheartened him.

Cook would like to see Democrats win one of the congressional chambers, but says he’s not sure what good will come of it.

He says he voted for Kyrsten Sinema for Senate because she has demonstrated her willingness to be more bipartisan. He questions whether Martha McSally could do that.


1:15 p.m.

Commercial builder Keith Broadwater from Phoenix says his votes in Tuesday’s midterm election reflected his support for the U.S. Constitution, President Donald Trump, the people who have been forgotten by politicians and the president’s approach to economic growth and illegal immigration.

The 65-year-old told says he also voted for Republican Senate candidate Martha McSally and GOP Gov. Doug Ducey.

Broadwater described himself as a “Christian American constitutional conservative Republican — in that order.”

He credits Trump with improving the business climate by cutting regulations on business “so that the entrepreneurial free expression of ideas can run again.”


1 p.m.

Rep. Martha McSally is telling backers to “just land the plane.”

The Republican senate candidate and former combat pilot greeted supporters at a diner in the Phoenix suburb of Chandler on Election Day.

She urged them to “carbo-load” and then get back to knocking on doors.

McSally’s says “we’re mission complete, we’re almost out of ammo, just land the plane.”

She is locked in a tight race with Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema for Arizona’s open Senate seat.


12:35 p.m.

U.S. Senate candidate Kyrsten Sinema is spending the final hours of Election Day talking to voters and grabbing food at one of her favorite restaurants.

The Democrat says she started Tuesday with a run on the University of Arizona campus in Tucson before heading to Phoenix.

She greeted patrons during the lunch hour at America’s Taco Shop in Phoenix.

Sinema says she will remain laser-focused on campaigning up until polls close. She also says she is not concerned by any confusion that may arise from the late withdrawal of Green Party candidate Angela Green.

Sinema and Republican Martha McSally are in a tight race to become Arizona’s first female senator.

They are vying for the seat vacated by Republican Sen. Jeff Flake, who decided not to seek re-election.


10:45 a.m.

Maricopa County’s top election official says the Election Day turnout at polling sites in metro Phoenix is almost on par with a presidential election.

County Recorder Adrian Fontes says more than 86,000 ballots were cast at polling places of Tuesday morning.

Fontes says lines at some locations left people waiting for voting booths but not to check in.

Fontes says there have been some problems at a few of the some 500 voting sites.

They included technical glitches in Mesa and a foreclosure that locked up a Chandler polling place.

Fontes says the Chandler location is being set up at an alternative site elsewhere on the same property.

Officials had planned initially to relocate to a high school.


10:25 a.m.

A 52-year-old math teacher at a Phoenix community college says she always votes but that this midterm carries a particular urgency.

Democrat Kory Ambrosich says she’s “very frightened” by the country’s direction under President Donald Trump and his Republican supporters and says that direction “definitely needs to be halted and changed.”

Ambrosich says that she’s saddened by the country’s political divide and that she feels it in her own family.

She wants a Congress that would be willing to push back against Trump if necessary, even if it means getting less done.


10 a.m.

A 60-year-old Phoenix man is rooting for Martha McSally to be Arizona’s first female senator.

Jeff Heisel says that he liked McSally’s fighter pilot background and that he and his wife felt so strongly about McSally that they went to her Oct. 12 rally in the Phoenix suburb of Gilbert.

Heisel says he felt Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake failed to support President Donald Trump.


8:45 a.m.

Maricopa County election officials say a polling site in the Phoenix suburb of Chandler is not operating.

County Recorder Adrian Fontes told KTVK-TV that poll workers were trying to set up in the parking lot of the Golf Academy of America, which had been foreclosed on overnight Tuesday.

Fontes says they will now open a new polling location for the Gila Precinct at Mesquite High School in nearby Gilbert at about 10 a.m.

The owners of the property locked the doors, taking election officials by surprise.

Fontes had said reopening the site would have required a court order.

Any voter can cast a ballot at a voting center, while only voters registered in a specific precinct such as the Gila Precinct can cast ballots at a precinct’s polling location.


8:05 a.m.

A precinct polling location in a Phoenix suburb that was locked by a landlord is open.

Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes tweeted that the Gila Precinct’s location in Chandler was up and running shortly after 7 a.m. Tuesday.

The owners of the Golf Academy of America polling location locked the doors overnight.

Fontes says his office was taken by surprise and learned the property was in foreclosure.

County election officials were sending affected voters to cast ballots at a voting center at Chandler City Hall. They said reopening the site would require a court order.

Any voter can cast a ballot at a voting center, while only voters registered in a specific precinct such as the Gila Precinct can cast ballots at a precinct’s polling location.


6:30 a.m.

Maricopa County’s top elections official says a precinct polling location in a Phoenix suburb didn’t open as scheduled Tuesday morning for the start of midterm election voting because the landlord locked the doors overnight.

County Recorder Adrian Fontes says his office was surprised to learn the Gila Precinct’s location in Chandler is in foreclosure and Fontes says his office is working to reopen the site or find a new one on short notice.

However, Fontes says affected voters can cast ballots at a voting center at Chandler City Hall.

Any voter can cast a ballot at a voting center, while only voters registered in a specific precinct such as the Gila Precinct can cast ballots at a precinct’s polling location.

Fontes says opening the Gila Precinct polling site would require getting a court order.

Maricopa County has over 500 polling locations.


6:20 a.m.

Voting is underway in Arizona as polling stations open across the state for Tuesday’s midterm election.

Democrat Kyrsten Sinema takes on Republican Martha McSally in the U.S. Senate race to replace Republican Jeff Flake, who is retiring.

In another statewide race, Republican Gov. Doug Ducey is seeking a second term. He’s challenged by Democrat David Garcia.

Voters also will fill the state’s other statewide offices from attorney general to corporation commissioner.

A Republican-backed measure to expand the state’s school vouchers program is on the ballot. So is a Democratic-backed one to increase the state’s renewable energy standard.

Polls are open until 7 p.m. but most Arizona voters had already cast their ballots early. Officials forecast potentially record turnout for a midterm.


11:10 p.m.

Voters are making their final decisions in a historic Arizona election.

Either Republican Rep. Martha McSally or Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema will become the state’s first female U.S. Senator. Their contentious race for a seat being vacated by retiring Senator Jeff Flake has dominated the state’s politics.

Voters will also decide whether to re-elect Republican Gov. Doug Ducey. They’ll also choose officials for the state’s various statewide offices from attorney general to corporation commissioner. A Republican-backed measure to expand the state’s school voucher program is on the ballot. So is a Democratic-backed one to increase the state’s renewable energy standard.

The majority of Arizona voters have already cast their ballots early for the election. Officials are forecasting potentially record turnout for a midterm.


This story has been corrected to reflect than an education ballot measure would expand school vouchers, not charter schools.