Arizona turned blue on Tuesday. Here are the highlights from an historic Election Day for the state:
• The Associated Press declared Democrat Joe Biden the winner over President Donald Trump in Arizona, turning the state blue for the first time in 24 years. The national race is still too close to call.
• Democrat Mark Kelly defeated Republican Sen. Martha McSally in a U.S. Senate race with national implications.
• Arizona voters legalized marijuana, joining New Jersey, Montana and South Dakota, where voters appeared to approve similar measures.
But Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey made it clear that the results aren’t final yet as Trump has whittled away at Biden’s lead as the votes continue to be counted.
“I want to thank the voters of Arizona for having patience,” Ducey said. “I encourage media outlets, cable news and national pundits to do the same, and to avoid the temptation to declare a winner until our Arizona election officials have finished their jobs. We’ve seen dramatic changes to races up and down the ballot since Tuesday night, including for President. All of this underlines the importance of not jumping to conclusions in the state of Arizona until there is a final outcome in all counties. In Arizona, we count votes received up until Election Day. That’s it. No judges have intervened and no last-minute changes have been enacted. We’re following established Arizona election law to the letter.”
Biden, the former vice president, helped lead a blue wave across Arizona and flip this longtime Republican stronghold to a Democratic presidential candidate for only the second time in 68 years.
With 97% of state precincts reporting, Biden was ahead of Trump by about 5 percentage points, thanks in large part to a lead in Maricopa County – the state’s largest – which Trump won by about 44,000 votes four years ago.
“We’re confident about Arizona,” Biden told supporters just before 11 p.m. local time. “That’s a turnaround.”
Democrat Mark Kelly led Republican incumbent Martha McSally by nearly 7 percentage points in a race that could help determine control of the U.S. Senate. The ex-astronaut addressed supporters around 10 p.m., telling them he was confident that when all votes were counted, “we’re going to be successful in this mission.”
He will join Kyrsten Sinema as the first all-Democrat Senate delegation from the state since the early 1950s.
“Continuing a long tradition, Arizonans again chose independent leadership in electing our new U.S. Senator,” said Arizona senior Senator Kyrsten Sinema. “I congratulate Mark on his victory and on the campaign he ran – a campaign focused on issues that matter to Arizonans and how to get results for our state, rejecting the petty politics of name-calling and false personal attacks. I am confident Mark will uphold the Arizona values of seeking common ground and putting country above party. I look forward to partnering with him to cut through Washington dysfunction to deliver for everyday Arizonans, and I thank Martha McSally for her service.”
It caps a high-profile, high-cost campaign that was the most expensive in Arizona history and the second-most expensive Senate race in the country this year, behind South Carolina, Kelly had raised $89.8 million as of Oct. 14 to McSally’s $56.9 million, according to the most recent reports with the Federal Election Commission.
Jason Rose, a Republican political analyst in Arizona, said the reason Arizonans are taking this race so seriously is because the state “has become a battleground state.”
“A Mark Kelly victory would be the second Democratic senator elected in two years,” Rose said, a reference to the 2018 race in which Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Arizona, beat McSally in her first bid for Senate.
“It would certainly cement the purple hue of the state,” he said. “The other most obvious thing is that this would potentially decide which party takes control of the Senate.”
Cronkite News reporters Allie Barton, MacKenzie Belley, Anthony J. Wallace and Catherine Fusillo contributed to this report.