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5:28 PM Sun, Sept. 23rd

TOP STORIES OF 2010 - No. 7: Republican unseats Democratic incumbent in U.S. House race

Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier, file photo<br>
Then-candidate Paul Gosar greets supporters at The Palace in downtown Prescott Nov. 2 after initial results showed him leading incumbent Ann Kirkpatrick in the race for the District One seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier, file photo<br> Then-candidate Paul Gosar greets supporters at The Palace in downtown Prescott Nov. 2 after initial results showed him leading incumbent Ann Kirkpatrick in the race for the District One seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Political newcomer Paul Gosar took Arizona's 1st Congressional District seat away from Democratic incumbent Ann Kirkpatrick in the Nov. 2 general election, riding the Republican wave that swept the nation.

As the country's economic slump continued, Republicans gained 64 seats in the U.S. House, the largest gain for either party since 1948. Republicans easily reclaimed the majority.

Republicans also won every statewide office in Arizona for the first time since 1994.

Confident Republicans, including Sen. John McCain, rallied on the steps of the Yavapai County Courthouse in Prescott on Election Eve.

"This isn't an election - it's a restraining order," McCain said, quoting humorist P.J. O'Rourke.

Both Gosar, a dentist, and Kirkpatrick, an attorney, hail from Flagstaff. Gosar called himself a Tea Party member and won the endorsement of Sarah Palin. Kirkpatrick called herself an independent Democrat who strongly supported gun rights and spending cutbacks. She served one term before her loss.

"People are upset," Gosar said in explaining his win. "People want to be heard."

The first thing he wants to do is talk to people via a series of meetings throughout his sprawling rural district, and hear what they want Congress to do with issues such as health care and the economy, Gosar said.

"People want to be part of the solution," he said.

Gosar gathered with supporters at The Palace Saloon on Prescott's Whiskey Row on Election Night, while Kirkpatrick holed up in her Prescott headquarters on the east side of the city.

Yavapai County was a big factor in Gosar's win. Gosar took 49.65 percent of the votes compared to 43.7 percent for Kirkpatrick. In Yavapai County, Gosar got 59 percent of the votes.

And Yavapai had the most voters of any county in the 1st Congressional District at 38 percent.

Yavapai also had the highest voter turnout of any county in the state at 68 percent. Only two other counties topped 60 percent - Pima and Gila.

Kirkpatrick won in Apache, Coconino and Greenlee counties. The huge rural district includes parts of eight counties.

Gosar supporter Mal Barrett Jr. of Prescott said he was surprised just how well Gosar did in Yavapai County.

The Republican sweep of the Legislative District One (LD1) races was no surprise, since the district is dominated by Yavapai County.

"This is a very conservative county and very conservative district," said Arizona Sen. Steve Pierce of Prescott, even though CD1 has more Democrats than Republicans. The Democrats are old-time Blue Dog Democrats, he said.

Pierce took 65 percent of the vote in the LD1 Senate race.

Republicans Rep. Andy Tobin of Paulden and former Chino Valley Mayor Karen Fann took the LD1 House seats with 40 percent and 35 percent of the votes, respectively.

Republicans dominate both houses of the Arizona Legislature.