Sen. Martha McSally concedes Arizona race, congratulates Mark Kelly

Nov 13, 2020, 1:02 PM | Updated: 1:43 pm
(Rob Schumacher/The Arizona Republic via AP, Pool)...
(Rob Schumacher/The Arizona Republic via AP, Pool)
(Rob Schumacher/The Arizona Republic via AP, Pool)

PHOENIX – More than a week after the contest was called by major outlets on Election Day, U.S. Sen. Martha McSally conceded in her race against Democrat Mark Kelly.

The Arizona Republican issued a statement Friday saying she’d called Kelly to congratulate him on his victory.

“With nearly all the votes counted, I called Mark Kelly this morning to congratulate him on winning this race,” McSally said.

“I also offered support in his transition to ensure Arizonans are best served during this time. I wish him all the best.”

With only a few thousand ballots left to be counted statewide, Kelly had a 51.2%-48.8% advantage, a margin of nearly 80,000 votes.

Kelly’s win reflects months of polling that had him ahead, although the final tally was closer than projected. With around $140 million total raised by both candidates, it was the most expensive race in Arizona history.

The Associated Press and other media organizations projected Kelly as the victor of the special election late on election night.

Kelly, a political newcomer, former astronaut and the husband of former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, declared victory in a tweet the day after the election.

Kelly joins Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, who entered the Senate after defeating McSally in the 2018 midterm election, to give Arizona two Democratic senators for the first time since 1953.

McSally joined the Senate in January 2019 after she was appointed by Gov. Doug Ducey to fill the seat vacated when Sen. John McCain died a few months earlier. Jon Kyl temporarily held the seat between McCain’s death and McSally’s appointment.

She previously served in the U.S. House, representing Arizona’s 2nd Congressional District. She was a U.S. Air Force pilot before entering politics.

Kelly won’t have much time to relax before campaigning again, because he’ll be up for reelection in 2022 when McCain’s term expires.

“It has been an absolute honor to fight for and serve Arizona in the U.S. Senate, especially during these unprecedented times,” McSally said. “Thanks to Gov. Ducey for giving me this extraordinary opportunity to serve.

“I will always be inspired by the strength, resilience, innovation, and compassion that I witnessed from Arizonans as I traveled throughout our great state. I will never forget what I learned from all of you.”

Ducey thanked McSally for her service and congratulated Kelly in a pair of tweets after McSally conceded.

Kelly flipping the seat keeps Democrats in contention for taking control of the Senate.

The breakdown stands at 50-48 in favor of the GOP with all of the general election races called, but two seats in Georgia won’t be decided until a January runoff election.

With Joe Biden winning the presidency, Democrats would have the edge in a 50-50 split because Vice President-elect Kamala Harris would have the tiebreaking vote if needed.

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Sen. Martha McSally concedes Arizona race, congratulates Mark Kelly