PHOENIX -- Latino groups registered tens of thousands of new voters in Arizona during this election cycle. Those efforts were not enough to overcome the heavy Republican turnout that elected Congressman Jeff Flake to the U.S. Senate.
The six-term congressman won the competitive GOP primary and faced former U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona in the general election. Carmona is of Puerto Rican descent, and some observers had expected a strong Latino voter turnout to make the race a close one.
Flake had the support of both Arizona senators, Kyl and John McCain, who ironically had both supported Carmona for Surgeon General in 2002.
Both candidates hurled charges at one another in the closest senate race in more than three decades.
Flake said both parties must agree to deal with the nation’s debt.
"We have divided government so we gotta reach across the aisle. We just have to do it in a way that limits the size of government," Flake said. "We have to take care of this debt and deficit that we have, because that’s the biggest problem we have. That’s the paramount issue of our time."
In Tucson, Carmona thanked his supporters for their efforts.
"We ran a race I’ll always be proud of without the trash talk and divisive partisanship that defines our modern politics. That’s a lot to be proud of tonight and a lot of thanks to go around," Carmona said. "All of you invested a lot of yourselves in this campaign and I can’t thank you enough."
Flake’s final victory margin won’t be known until all the votes, including provisional ballots, are counted over the next several days. Arizona election officials conceded an unusually high number of provisional ballots were required on Tuesday.
It looks like Flake's margin of victory will be about 9 percent, making it the closest race since Barry Goldwater won his last senate campaign in 1982 by a little more than 1 percent of the vote.