Schweikert has slim lead in congressional race - East Valley Tribune: News

Schweikert has slim lead in congressional race

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Posted: Wednesday, September 3, 2008 12:10 pm | Updated: 11:34 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

The waiting game continued Wednesday for David Schweikert and Susan Bitter Smith, the top two finishers in the Republican primary for Arizona's 5th Congressional District race.

EARLIER STORY: Schweikert-Bitter Smith race too close to call

Schweikert held an uncertain 790-vote lead against Bitter Smith after all regular ballots were counted by mid-day, according to elections officials. However, it was still too soon for the former Maricopa County treasurer who had been running for the federal office for nearly a year to declare victory in the six-way primary battle.

"I think we're going to be fine, but prudence is the better part of valor here," he said after getting about 4 1/2 hours of sleep following election night.

Election officials were working Wednesday to sort through an undetermined number of early ballots that were dropped off at polling places on Election Day, plus provisional ballots that were cast by residents whose names didn't appear on voter rolls or who didn't have proper identification.

Election officials must review and validate those ballots individually.

The final tally of uncontested ballots gave Schweikert 29.9 percent of the total ballots cast in the contest. Television industry lobbyist and former Scottsdale City Councilwoman Bitter Smith trailed with 28 percent.

The next closest candidate was more than 10 percentage points behind.

Bitter Smith declined to concede the race until the final vote count is released, which could be later this week.

"My fellow candidates ran a spirited campaign that shows the enthusiasm in the district for replacing the broken promises of the incumbent," she said in a statement released Wednesday. "We know that when the results are final we can expect Republicans to unite behind our nominee."

Incumbent Rep. Harry Mitchell ran unopposed in the Democratic primary, but if Tuesday's turnout was any indication, he may have a difficult time winning his first re-election.

Schweikert said the turnout figures make for a bit of interesting political trivia, but not much more.

"How many contested Democratic primaries were there in this district that would draw Democrat participation?" he asked. "There really wasn't a lot for Democrats to vote on, other than the county attorney race and a couple here and there."

In contrast, the presidential contest will attract a much broader cross section of voters than the primary elections drew, so the dynamics of November's election will be far different, Schweikert said. "It makes it an interesting race," he said.

The 5th District takes in Scottsdale, Tempe, Fountain Hills, Ahwatukee Foothills and west Mesa.

In other races that were too close to call Tuesday, Wednesday's tally showed that Sydney Hay beat out three others in a narrow race in the GOP primary of the 1st Congressional District.

Hay finished with 38.8 percent of the vote, while Sandra Livingstone was next with 34.5 percent.

Hay will face Democratic primary winner Ann Kirkpatrick, a former state legislator, who solidly beat three political newcomers. Kirkpatrick collected 47.3 percent of the vote, while her closest rival, former TV news reporter Mary Kim Titla, garnered 32.5 percent.

The 1st District is being vacated by incumbent Republican Rep. Rick Renzi, who faces trial on dozens of public corruption charges.

The rural district takes in vast regions of the northern, central and eastern portions of the state, including booming eastern Pinal County.

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