Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) has pulled into the lead in Arizona’s slow-crawling Senate race.
New ballots released by populous Maricopa and Pima Counties Thursday evening gave Sinema a lead of just over 9,600 votes over Rep. Martha McSally (R-AZ) in their tight battle for the Senate.
McSally had led since election night. But there are still almost a half-million outstanding ballots in the state, which is notoriously slow at tallying its election results because of a heavy reliance on mail voting. That’s more than one fifth of the total vote, plenty to swing the election either way.
The hard-fought contest will drag on for days and potentially weeks longer.
Both candidates have been here before. McSally had to wait weeks to find out she’d defeated then-Rep. Ron Barber (D-AZ) in 2014 by just 167 votes, and Sinema had to wait days to be sure she’d won her House seat in a close 2012 election.
This race and Florida’s tight battle between Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Gov. Rick Scott (R) have yet to be called. The two will make major difference between a closely divided Senate or one that would give the GOP a much more governable majority and make it much harder for Democrats to win back the chamber in two years. Assuming Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) wins her runoff against former U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy (D), the Senate balance could sit at 52 Republicans and 48 Democrats or a 54-46 split.