Republican Senate candidate Blake Masters congratulated Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly Tuesday on his reelection win, signaling a controversy-free ending to one of Arizona’s most-watched races.
People familiar with the call described it as cordial, with each man expressing “mutual respect” for each other.
The call brings a pedestrian ending to a race that from the outset carried major national implications for the U.S. Senate.
Kelly’s win helped Democrats preserve control of the chamber, and, if Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., wins the runoff election next month, the party would gain a seat in a remarkable reversal of longstanding midterm history.
In a tweet Tuesday, Masters referred to the call without elaborating. He said Republicans as a party must recalibrate their election strategies as “underdogs” moving forward. He gave no indication of his plans.
“I called and congratulated Mark Kelly this morning. There were obviously a lot of problems with this election, but there is no path forward in my race,” Masters wrote.
“Republicans are the underdogs now. I was outspent by over $70 million. That’s what happens when you take on the national Democrat machine, the media, the universities, Big Tech, and woke corporations.
“So Republicans need to start thinking like underdogs. No more consultant one-size-fits-all strategies. We have to build on what works, scrap what doesn’t.”
A week after Election Day, the end of Arizona’s elections remains at least party unclear. Gov.-elect Katie Hobbs was only projected to win her race late Monday, and Kari Lake, her Republican rival, has not conceded.
The state’s attorney general race also is not over with Democrat Kris Mayes holding a scant 2,200-vote lead over Republican Abe Hamadeh with more votes to count on Tuesday.
Looming over all of it is the possibility of lawsuits, especially after Maricopa County election officials had equipment problems that affected an estimated 30% of tabulators across the county on Election Day.
It was a problem that lasted hours and seemed especially likely to affect Republican voters, who dominated in-person voting, as former President Donald Trump had long signaled.
County officials maintain no ballots were lost or uncounted by the problems, and a judge refused to extend voting hours because of it.
Whatever the problems, Kelly’s claim to winning the Senate race was perhaps the strongest for Democrats in Arizona. Unofficial results on Tuesday showed him leading Masters by nearly 126,000 votes, or 4.9 percentage points with few ballots left to count.
In addition to the threat of legal action, Trump never accepted his narrow loss in Arizona in 2020 to President Joe Biden. It was the smallest victory in the country for Biden and came in a state with a long history of Republican triumphs.
That, along with widespread complaints and disbelief from Trump’s supporters, helped spark a months-long review of Maricopa County’s ballots as ordered by the state Senate.
The resulting hand recount concluded Biden won, as county officials had first reported.
Reach the reporter Ronald J. Hansen at email@example.com or 602-444-4493. Follow him on Twitter @ronaldjhansen.
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