More than a month after Martha McSally declared victory on election night, a judge made it official this morning and declared her the winner over U.S. Rep. Ron Barber in Arizona’s 2nd Congressional District.
Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Katherine Cooper announced the results of the recount of the election, which ended in November with McSally, a Republican, leading the incumbent Democrat by a mere 161 votes.
With more than 220,000 votes recounted in Pima and Cochise counties, McSally increased her margin of victory to 167 votes. She captured 109,714 votes, while Barber finished the recount with 109,547 votes. Pima County elections officials counted 21 more votes than in the initial count, while Cochise County officials tossed one ballot during the recount.
McSally has already been preparing for her first term in Congress, having traveled to Washington, D.C., shortly after the Nov. 4 election.
“We’re grateful to everyone who devoted their time and resources, especially during the extended vote and recount processes, to get us over the finish line,” McSally said in a statement. “With the results of the recount now official, we can move forward as one community to bring Southern Arizonans the strong representation they deserve.”
Barber issued a statement conceding the election to McSally, and with no legal challenge to the recount forthcoming, Cooper’s ruling brings to an end a prolonged election process bogged down by complaints from both candidates. Barber promised to aid McSally and ensure her smooth transition into office.
McSally’s win gives the GOP a 5-4 advantage in the Arizona congressional delegation. Republicans will have their largest U.S. House majority in 83 years when the new Congress convenes next month.
Barber was a staffer for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords when he and the congresswoman were wounded during a political event in Tucson in January 2011. Barber then won a special election to fill out the remainder of Giffords’ term. He defeated McSally in 2012 to win a full term in Congress, in a race separated by fewer than 2,500 votes.
McSally, a former Air Force combat pilot, won their rematch in a year that saw the GOP make big gains across the country. The results of the mandatory recount mean Republicans will hold their largest House majority since the administration of President Herbert Hoover, controlling 247 seats to 188 for Democrats.
The 2nd District was the last outstanding congressional race from the Nov. 4 general election.
The Tucson-area district is one of the most competitive in the nation. Giffords narrowly won her 2010 race over a Republican challenger in the months before she was wounded in the shooting that killed six and wounded her, Barber and 11 others.
A recount was triggered automatically given the narrow margin separating the counting on election night. It marked the first recount of a congressional race in Arizona general election history.
Barber had fought in several venues to get additional votes counted but was turned away at every effort. He tried to get the board of supervisors from Pima and Cochise counties and the secretary of state to order rejected provisional and early ballots counted. When that failed, he turned to a federal judge to get the provisional ballots counted.
“This result is not the one we hoped for, but we take solace in having spoken out loud and clear for the principle that every legal vote should be counted,” Barber said in a statement.
McSally, too, made attempts to sway the election in court. She asked a judge to halt the counting of some provisional ballots during the general election because some lacked the signature of an election worker.
Separately, a group of voters tried to get the state Supreme Court to halt the recount because of the computer program used. That too was rejected.
– Includes information from the Associated Press