Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick defeated Republican Sydney Hay for the open seat in Arizona’s 1st Congressional District, giving U.S. House Democrats a 5-3 edge in Arizona, their first majority in decades.
Neither of the state’s U.S. Senate seats were contested. Sen. John McCain will retain his Senate seat for the remaining two years of his six-year term.
Kirkpatrick picked up the 1st District seat that was vacated by three-term incumbent Republican Rep. Rick Renzi, who faces dozens of felony charges for public corruption related to his involvement in a proposed federal land exchange.
The rural 1st District is larger than Illinois and stretches from the Four Corners to Casa Grande.
Elsewhere, Democratic incumbents Harry Mitchell, Gabrielle Giffords, Ed Pastor and Raul Grijalva, and Republican incumbents Jeff Flake, John Shadegg and Trent Franks all held their seats.
The change represents the continuing political shift to the center in Arizona and other Mountain West states, said Arizona Democratic Party chairman Don Bivens.
“I’m not surprised that we picked up five, but I’m very pleased. Now our goal will be to pick up that sixth seat in the next election,” he said.
Bivens noted that Democrats raised twice as much money and registered twice as many new voters as Republicans in Arizona during the 2008 election season.
However, he noted that Republicans still outnumber Democrats in Mitchell’s district in the East Valley and Giffords’ district anchored in Tucson.
“You have to see it as thoughtful Republicans and independents voting for Democrats. In Harry’s district and Gabby’s district, Democrats don’t win those races. The independents and Republicans put them over the top,” Bivens said.
Kirkpatrick, a former state representative and prosecutor, said her election marked a public commitment to changing the way Washington works.
“As your Representative, I will be your independent voice in the halls of Congress and I will fight for working families,” she told supporters in Flagstaff. “In Congress, I will reach across the aisle to tackle the challenges facing Arizonans today.”
Mitchell said he expects Arizona will continue to shift from red to blue in future elections. “The way it’s always been is not the way it’s going to be,” he said.