Sen. Frank Antenori, the Republican from Tucson famous for his bluntness and his penchant for using war imagery in speeches, lost his re-election bid.
Antenori trailed his Democratic opponent, former legislator David Bradley, at the start of the count, and he never recovered.
Bradley maintained his commanding lead over Antenori as more votes were counted.
Bradley was cautious about declaring victory on Election Night, noting that more Republicans historically turn out on Election Day.
But by Nov. 8, it was clear the Democrat had won.
Like many of his party-mates, Bradley hopes that the slimmer majority would impel Republicans to reach out to them.
“I basically made it my theme during the campaign,” he said. “We’ve just got to stop screaming at each other. No matter what you believe, you’ve just got to stop demonizing everybody because they oppose your point of view.”
Bradley added that burden of fixing Arizona falls on everybody, regardless of party affiliation.
The two fought a bitterly-contested battle to secure the Senate seat in Legislative District 10, a competitive area in Tucson that includes the central, southeast, and northeast parts of the city.
Democrats hold less than a 3-point voter registration advantage in the district.
Antenori tried to put his opponent on the defensive through most of the race, but Bradley’s political machinery and the Democrats’ voter- registration advantage in the district proved to be insurmountable.
Known for not backing down, Antenori certainly went out blazing.
He released, for example, a radio ad late in the campaign that sought to rile up voters as a strategy of getting them to support him.
The title of the ad said it all: “You should be angry.”
In the ad, Antenori repeated his main argument against voting for Bradley — that the Democrat irresponsibly increased state spending when the economy was tanking and it was guys like Antenori who had to clean up the mess.
Antenori also said Bradley favored raising taxes.
“Bradley says I’m angry, but when you see the mess that Bradley and his cronies have made and the damage that they’ve done to our economy, you should be angry,” Antenori said in the ad.
The radio campaign provided a glimpse into Antenori’s strategy — to target independents, who, he believed, are overwhelmingly fiscally conservative.
But some strategists wrote off Antenori’s reelection chances off, saying he was courting the people would vote for him anyway while doing little to secure the support of moderate voters in the district.
Some also speculated that Antenori’s “abrasiveness” would turn some voters off, ensuring his defeat.
But Antenori rejected that characterization, saying he is honest about his views and insisting he gets criticized because he is not a sellout.
Bradley, who is also from Tucson, had pounced back at Antenori, pointing out that at the height of the crisis, he and his Republican colleagues used gimmickry, borrowing and even a sales tax increase to balance the budget.
Two years ago, Antenori balked at sending a temporary one-cent tax increase to the ballot but he supported the budget that assumed revenues from that tax hike.
Bradley also laughed off the notion that that he was to blame for all the damage that Antenori said he had wrought on the state.
“He attributes the huge financial losses that the nation went through (to me). What’s next? The tsunami is my fault? Or Hurricane Katrina?
What else did I do? You know, it’s just nutty,” Bradley said.
Antenori campaigned mostly without any help from outside groups.
But Democratic groups pummeled the Republican with nearly $190,000 in independent spending.
In the end, Antenori was financially outgunned.