J.D. Hayworth, who ended up on the short end of the vote count on election night, refused to concede defeat in his re-election bid Wednesday. Hayworth declined Tribune interview requests, but in television and radio interviews said he planned to wait out the final count.
Hayworth declined interview requests with the Tribune, but in television and radio interviews the six-term Republican said he planned to wait out the final count.
Election officials said more than 250,000 ballots cast in Maricopa County have yet to be counted. They were unable to immediately determine how many of those ballots were from the 5th district, which includes Scottsdale, Tempe, Ahwatukee Foothills, Fountain Hills and surrounding areas.
Unofficial results late Wednesday had Democratic challenger Harry Mitchell ahead with 50.5 percent, followed by Hayworth with 46.2 percent and Libertarian Warren Severin with 3.3 percent.
Mitchell led by 5,955 votes among 140,819 votes counted so far.
Hayworth has no reason to believe anything is askew with the election results to date, said spokesman Brian Hummell.
“He’s just waiting to find out and wants to make sure that every vote that was legally cast was counted properly,” Hummell said.
Mitchell said Wednesday he has been accepting congratulatory phone calls, but has been reminding his wellwishers that he’s also waiting out the final vote count.
“Things are going very well, but there’s a lot of absentee ballots out there and a lot of provisional ballots,” he said.
“I’m glad I’m in the position I’m in and I think we’re moving in the right direction, so I feel good about that, but I’m not going to claim victory, no,” said Mitchell, who has held public office nearly continuously since 1970.
One of the first congratulatory calls he received election night was from former President Bill Clinton, who campaigned for him during the final days of the election.
“He just said he was excited and wished me well and said he thought it was going to be a new day in Washington,” Mitchell said. “I thanked him for coming out here and he said, ‘Well, I hope I did you some good.’ It was pretty neat.”
Several members of the U.S. House, including Silvestre Reyes of Texas and Steve Israel of New York, also called to offer congratulations, Mitchell said. Relatives and associates of both worked on Mitchell’s campaign.
Political analyst Bruce Merrill said Hayworth is unlikely to win a new term.
It’s a long shot at this point, with the number of ballots that Harry’s ahead,” Merrill said. “He’d have to probably have 80 percent of those that are out there.”
Mitchell is preparing to travel to Washington for House orientation seminars for freshmen members. The former Tempe High School government teacher said he hopes to be assigned to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, should he prevail in the final vote count.