Jason Hopkins on November 7, 2018
The race to become Arizona’s next U.S. senator is too close to call, and because of uncounted absentee ballots, it could remain that way for days to come.
The race between Rep. Martha McSally and Kyrsten Sinema is extremely close. McSally, the GOP nominee, currently leads with 49.3 percent compared to Democratic nominee Sinema’s 48.4 percent. Despite 99 percent of precincts reporting, the race is still deemed a tossup as thousands of absentee ballots remain uncounted.
Maricopa County — the state’s most populous county — is still processing votes. Once this is completed, the Maricopa County’s Recorder’s Office will then begin counting “late early ballots,” which could take days.
“There are going to be very sophisticated operations of monitoring and reporting that stuff back to the parties,” state elections director Eric Spencer stated Wednesday to the Arizona Republic. “And it’s inevitable there will be some sort of lawsuit filed during the process.”
The election could be protracted even longer if a recount or challenge is made.
“The political parties will chase after every vote that remains in limbo, and someone is going to file a lawsuit claiming that whatever process is being used is disenfranchising their voter,” Spencer continued.
In a Twitter statement on Wednesday morning, Sinema told her followers that there were many outstanding ballots to be counted and “reasons to feel good.”
Good morning, Arizona! This race is about you and we’re going to make sure your vote is counted. There are a lot of outstanding ballots – especially those mailed-in – and a lot of reasons to feel good! We’re doing the work & will keep you updated. Thanks for being on Team Sinema!
— Kyrsten Sinema (@kyrstensinema) November 7, 2018
The McSally camp has remained mostly mum since election results began to trickle in late Tuesday night. However, the Republican lawmaker did offer her condolences to former Arizona GOP Gov. Jan Brewer, who’s son died unexpectedly on Monday.
My heart breaks for Governor Jan Brewer in the passing of her son Ronald. May God comfort her and her family in this time of grief.
— Martha McSally (@RepMcSally) November 6, 2018
The Arizona Senate election pits two markedly different candidates against each other. McSally, 52, served as a military officer before representing the state’s 2nd congressional district. Sinema, 46, was a vehement anti-war activist before being elected to represent Arizona’s 9th congressional district. Sinema was involved in a number of anti-war activities — some of which included depicting U.S. soldiers as skeletons — around the same time McSally served as an Air Force pilot.
The election will decide who ultimately replaces outgoing Republican Sen. Jeff Flake, who opted not to run for re-election. The race is historic given that, no matter who wins, Arizona will elect its first women to the Senate.
As of Wednesday morning, McSally led Sinema by nearly 16,000 votes.
Follow Jason on Twitter.