Flagstaff dentist and political newcomer Paul Gosar made quick work of U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick in the battle over Arizona’s 1st Congressional District, defeating the Democratic incumbent by about 6 percentage points, according to unofficial results from the Secretary of State’s Office.
Gosar, who bested Kirkpatrick by 13,000 votes, rode an anti-incumbency theme bolstered by tea party endorsements to mobilize conservative voters. He railed against the federal health care law and vowed, if elected, to make significant changes or wipe it out.
Gosar promised the popular Republican mantra this year of “repeal and replace,” a warmly welcomed message for many voters who felt the federal health care law was an overstep of the federal government’s power. But Gosar, who also promised to be more responsive to constituents than Kirkpatrick, has admitted that achieving meaningful changes on health care would take several years.
Gosar’s campaign also attacked Kirkpatrick for her support of the federal stimulus act. They portrayed her as a rubber stamp for U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and as a Washington insider who is too liberal for the district, which leans Republican despite a voter registration advantage for Democrats.
Kirkpatrick tried to convince voters she was an independent Democrat who is not afraid to buck party leadership, holding up her vote against the cap-and-trade bill as evidence that she hasn’t buckled to Democratic leadership. Yet she appears to have been unable to convince enough independent voters, who make up nearly one-third of the district’s 403,000 voters.
Kirkpatrick conceded the loss before midnight Nov. 2.