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12:04 PM Mon, Sept. 24th

Tobin concedes to Kirkpatrick in US House race

Democratic incumbent Ann Kirkpatrick, right, and Republican challenger Andy Tobin shake hands following a Congressional District 1 debate Tuesday, Oct. 14, 2014, at Mountain View High School in Tucson, Ariz. (Associated Press photo/Arizona Daily Star, Mike Christy)

Democratic incumbent Ann Kirkpatrick, right, and Republican challenger Andy Tobin shake hands following a Congressional District 1 debate Tuesday, Oct. 14, 2014, at Mountain View High School in Tucson, Ariz. (Associated Press photo/Arizona Daily Star, Mike Christy)

PHOENIX - Democratic U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick held on to her seat in Congress on Wednesday and defeated Republican House Speaker Andy Tobin, leaving Arizona with one unsettled congressional race in which the two candidates are separated by a few dozen votes.

Tobin told The Associated Press that he called Kirkpatrick on Wednesday morning to offer his congratulations. Kirkpatrick's lead widened overnight, giving her a nearly 7-point advantage over Tobin in the race to represent a district that runs from Flagstaff to the Tucson suburbs.

The Associated Press also called the race for Kirkpatrick.

The race between Democratic Rep. Ron Barber and Republican challenger Martha McSally remains undecided.

McSally was a few dozen votes ahead of Barber, but ballots still are being counted in Pima and Cochise counties. It could be days before a winner is declared in the Tucson-area 2nd Congressional District.

Kirkpatrick credited her win to her ground game, voters' familiarity with her and American Indian votes that she courted heavily in the race. "We've been all over the district consistently, and I just think folks here value authenticity and courage of conviction," she said.

Tobin said he felt he was the underdog, but he thought the race would have been closer.

"It's important that the process is respected, and it's important that when elections are over that people move forward together and try to do things to help," Tobin said. "It's about public service, and I didn't want to miss the opportunity to congratulate her and to wish her well and to offer my help."

The race attracted attention and spending from the national parties as Kirkpatrick was viewed as a vulnerable Democrat.

The former state lawmaker has had bumpy rides in her quests for Congress. She was first elected in 2008 during a big year for Democrats nationally, then lost in 2010 in midterm races that marked the rise of the tea party. She returned to Congress in 2012 thanks in part to a redrawn congressional district.

Tobin sought to link Kirkpatrick to President Barack Obama on issues like the national health care overhaul.

Barber and McSally ran against each other in 2012, and Barber squeaked out the victory over the former military pilot by about 2,500 votes after days of counting. Barber said Wednesday that he's sure he will secure another term.

"When the votes are counted, we're fully confident that we will continue to win the early ballots," he said.

McSally said her training as a fighter pilot prepared her to accept any outcome.

"While the democratic process can be slower than we want at times, it's critical to making sure all Arizonans have their voices heard," she said. "We worked hard for every vote, and we intend to make sure that every vote is counted."

Barber and McSally squared off on issues including military spending and guns. Barber is a former aide to one-time Rep. Gabby Giffords, and the two were wounded in a mass shooting outside a Tucson grocery store in 2011. Giffords ran an ad supporting Barber as her gun organization took an active role in the midterm races.

In the Phoenix area, first-term Rep. Kyrsten Sinema trounced Republican Wendy Rogers in a victory that she said was a testament to her keeping a positive message and focusing on helping veterans.

Arizona voters decided a total of nine congressional districts on Tuesday. Incumbents held on to their seats in five districts, while Democrat Ruben Gallego easily won in a Phoenix district to replace outgoing Democratic Rep. Ed Pastor. Democrats entered the day with a 5-4 advantage in the Arizona delegation.