Rep. Raul Grijalva won re-election to a fifth term in southern Arizona's 7th Congressional District, vote tallies released Thursday show.
Grijalva widened his lead over GOP newcomer Ruth McClung from 3 percent to 4½ percent. That was enough for The Associated Press to declare him the race winner.
The Democrat was at risk of defeat because of a backlash over his call for a boycott of Arizona over its new immigration law. That led to Grijalva's tightest race in years, but he made no apologies Thursday night.
"I'm not going back to Congress with a renewed sense of caution or a sense of regret for what I've done," Grijalva said. "I'm going back with a new sense of purpose, especially when we're in the minority, because of what we have to defend for this district — their education, their health care and people's Social Security continues to be the issue. That's what their elected me to do."
He won more than 60 percent of the vote in 2006 and 2008.
Democrats dominate among voters in the 7th District, which includes western portions of Tucson and Pima County, much of Santa Cruz County and the entire far southwestern corner of the state.
But Grijalva lost nearly two to one in Yuma County.
"There's nothing I can say to the Yuma voters. I've never had the privilege of getting a majority there and I probably won't have that in the future," Grijalva said. "You bring projects in, clinics, a new Port of Entry, and it doesn't seem to have an effect. But the politics are more polarized and more racial in Yuma County than they are in Pima and Santa Cruz, so you deal with what you get."
Grijalva was challenged by a 28-year-old political newcomer who drew strong support from tea party conservative. McClung, a scientist for a defense contractor, crisscrossed the southwestern Arizona district hoping to tap into the tea party fervor that drove the national conversation this election cycle.
She said she will not concede until all the votes are counted.
"We're still waiting to see all the votes counted," McClung said Thursday night. "There's so many still out there I think it would be unfair for me to do anything right now until they are all counted.
"This was really a grass roots race," she added. "Just a big thank you to all the grass roots. That's what got us this far."
Election officials have until Nov. 12 to complete their final counts.