Democrat Tom O’Halleran will defeat Republican Paul Babeu in Arizona’s 1st District, The Associated Press projects.
O’Halleran led Babeu 50 percent to 44 percent with 62 percent of precincts reporting.
Arizona’s 1st District encompasses a large eastern swath of the state, a footprint the size of Pennsylvania, from the Utah border to just north of Tucson. It includes the nation’s largest Native American population.
While Democrats have an edge in voter registration, Mitt Romney carried the swing district by 2 points in 2012. Kirkpatrick won re-election by a wider 5-point margin in 2014.
O’Halleran, the member-elect, is actually a former Republican. He served as a GOP state senator for three years, and as a Republican member of the Arizona state House for five years. In the state capital, O’Halleran butted heads with GOP leadership for working across the aisle, particularly on changes to the state’s child protective services.
So he eventually switched parties, and hopes to continue working across the aisle in Congress. The political action committee that supports the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition of Democrats in Congress backed O’Halleran in his race.
O’Halleran has a particular interest in natural resources and education issues, as well as immigration policy.
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