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Andy Biggs appears to win tough primary in Arizona’s 5th Congressional District

Arizona Senate President Andy Biggs, R-Gilbert, presides in the Senate during budget deliberations at the Arizona Capitol Tuesday, May 3, 2016, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

It was much closer than most originally thought it would be, but Arizona Senate President Andy Biggs appears to have emerged as the winner in the congressional District 5 Republican primary on Tuesday, beating out Arizona House Rep. Justin Olson, former Maricopa County Supervisor Don Stapley and former GoDaddy executive Christine Jones, the latter of which spent heavily on the campaign.

Biggs was down by 500 votes to Jones at one point, but after all the ballots were tabulated by the Maricopa County Recorder’s office, Biggs was able to overcome the deficit and held a slim nine-vote lead.

The results are unofficial as the secretary of state’s office still has to certify the election, but KTAR’s Jim Cross said the slim lead for Biggs will automatically trigger a recount.

As of Saturday morning, Biggs received 29.48 percent of the vote or 25,228 votes compared to Jones’ 29.47 percent of the vote or 25,219 votes. Stapley had 20.73 percent or 17,744 votes and Olson received 20.32 percent or 17,386 votes.

“Over the last 48 hours, we have witnessed one of the most remarkable electoral turnarounds in the history of Arizona politics,” Biggs said in a statement declaring victory. “We started yesterday down more than 500 votes and finished it by winning the election by nine votes, and clinching the Republican nomination for Arizona’s 5th District.

“The extraordinary grassroots efforts in the final weeks to drive out our voters was an undeniable factor in this turnaround. It is also the reason we stand victorious today. We cannot thank our volunteers and supporters enough for making this happen.

“The fight does not end now. We will now focus on winning the general election in November so we can continue fighting in Congress and change Washington from the inside-out.”

Biggs, who received the endorsement of the retiring Rep. Matt Salmon, was also backed by numerous other elected leaders and groups, such as the Center for Arizona Policy, an anti-abortion group that has great power in the state Legislature.

He also pointed to his record in the Arizona Senate, where he’s led budget negotiations for the past four years, as a plus that can help in Congress.

“You’ve got 10 years where (former speaker) John Boehner and other leaders haven’t been able to pass a budget,” Biggs said this week. “So do you think sending somebody back there who knows how to get a budget out is a bad thing?”

Jones complicated things by spending more than $1.6 million on the race. As the only woman running and the only one who lives outside of the district, she relied on attack ads to carry part of her campaign. Some of those targeted Biggs, while other candidates followed suit.

Stapley also slammed Biggs, calling him an “ideologue who won’t work with people,” while pointing to legislation he tried to block expanding health care coverage for poor children. Jones also criticized Biggs for his position on KidsCare, which passed this year over Biggs’ opposition.

Biggs is almost certain to be the next congressman from the heavily-Republican district that covers Gilbert, Queen Creek and parts of Chandler and Mesa southeast of Phoenix.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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