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Kirkpatrick claims victory, Paton waits for uncounted ballots

Former U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (foreground) and former state Sen. Jonathan Paton pledge allegiance before their Oct. 4 debate. (Photo by Evan Wyloge/Arizona Capitol Times)

Former U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (foreground) and former state Sen. Jonathan Paton pledge allegiance before their Oct. 4 debate. (Photo by Evan Wyloge/Arizona Capitol Times)

By all appearances, Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick has won the race to represent Arizona’s expansive 1st Congressional District. Her Republican opponent, Jonathan Paton, however, has not conceded, saying that he is waiting to see how the uncounted ballots may affect the outcome.

As of Thursday, Kirkpatrick held a 7,000 vote lead over Paton, giving her 48.7 percent and him 45.3 percent.

The district spans nine of Arizona’s 15 counties. And although some of those counties include parts of other congressional districts, those counties still have more than 130,000 votes to count.

The recently redrawn district was expected to be one of the most competitive in the state.  Paton said he is cautious about whether he thinks the vote could turn around, but he won’t rule it out.

“What we’ve asked the counties to do is let us know how many of those uncounted ballots are in CD1,” Paton said. “They’ve promised to do that as soon as they can. Then we can do some modeling to see whether it’s possible or not. But we’re not willing to concede anything right now.”

The remaining uncounted ballots throughout Arizona are the early ballots that were returned on Election Day or that were mailed shortly before, as well as provisional ballots.

Paton said that he’s particularly hopeful about the uncounted ballots from Pima County, near where Paton lives, and Pinal County, which is strongly Republican.

Kirkpatrick, however, is comfortable declaring victory.

“It unfolded exactly like we planned for and predicted,” Kirkpatrick said.

Even though the early count showed Paton ahead, Kirkpatrick slowly overtook Payton as ballots were tallied and reported from Native American areas, which historically report more slowly.

“We knew that would be the case,” Kirkpatrick said about the slower returns.

Kirkpatrick also said her campaign put a significant effort into helping turn out Native American voters as well as delivering campaign messaging through media that reach the reservations.

“The Native American tribes in this district are a very important constituency. We went up on the radio early in the cycle,” Kirkpatrick said.

She said her legislative priorities are job creation, protecting Arizona’s natural resources and working to help veterans.

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