David Shweikert won his rematch with Democratic U.S. Rep. Harry Mitchell, taking back one of the GOP’s most coveted seats of the election cycle.
The former Maricopa County treasurer, who lost to Mitchell in 2008, beat the two-term Democrat by a margin of 52 percent to 42 percent. The win brings Arizona’s conservative 5th Congressional District, which Mitchell won in the Democratic wave years of 2006 and 2008, back into the Republican fold.
Mitchell bested Schweikert by 9 points in their last race, despite a 40,000-voter advantage for Republicans in the district. But the Democratic wave that swept Mitchell into office four years ago was replaced by a Republican one in 2010, and Schweikert said the more favorable year made a big difference.
“It’s terrific,” Schweikert said after declaring victory. “Elections are made up of all sorts of moving parts. It’s the wave, it’s the message, it’s the familiarity as a candidate and the name ID. It all just came together for what looks like a pretty good win.”
With 179 of 248 precincts reporting, Schweikert led Mitchell by about 12,000 votes.
The race for the Scottsdale and Tempe-based district was among the most competitive and nastiest in the state. Schweikert tarred Mitchell with his votes for key pieces of President Obama’s legislative agenda, while Mitchell blasted the GOP nominee over his purchase of hundreds of foreclosed homes and allegations of misconduct during his tenure as county treasurer.
The loss likely ends the political career of a man whose ties to his community run so deep that a 40-foot statue of him stands in front of Tempe City Hall. The 69-year-old Mitchell served as Tempe mayor and later as a state senator before voters sent him to Congress in 2006.
Mitchell could not immediately be reached for comment.
Schweikert’s win, along with Republican Paul Gosar’s win in Arizona’s 1st Congressional District, gives the GOP the majority in the state’s congressional delegation for the first time since 2006. Republicans control or are leading in five of the state’s eight congressional districts.
Mitchell won his seat in 2006 with the help of a Democratic wave and ethical problems surrounding then-Republican incumbent J.D. Hayworth.