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Martha McSally Declares Victory as Race Heads to Recount

McSally is a Republican. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Retired Air Force Col. Martha E. McSally, a Republican, retained a small lead over Democratic Rep. Ron Barber Wednesday, as initial ballot-counting ended in Arizona's 2nd District.  

McSally leads Barber by 161 votes, according to a local affiliate . As a result, the race will automatically go to a recount, because it is within a 200-vote margin mandated by Arizona law. The Associated Press has not yet called the race in McSally's favor, but the Republican claimed victory on Wednesday night.  

"All ballots are now counted and the voters have made their choice," McSally said in a statement. "After nearly three years, some $20 million dollars in ads and two campaigns, it's time to come together. We are united in our love for Southern Arizona.  

"I thank Congressman Barber for being willing to stand up and serve as he has," she added. "While we still have a recount to go, we expect similar results and will provide the necessary oversight to ensure accurate results."  

The Barber camp did not concede.  

"With the unofficial counting of votes now complete, the result is so close that the law requires an automatic recount," said Barber spokeswoman Ashley Nash-Hahn in a statement. "The law is written this way because every election includes some human error, and with an election as close as this one, it is important that we ensure the integrity of the results."  

This marks the first recount in the history of congressional elections in this state, according to the Arizona Republic . The process would start on Dec. 1, and many Arizona political operatives predict litigation in this race could drag out through the month.  

Across the state line in California, Democrats received good news in three House races.  

The AP called the race for Democratic Rep. Julia Brownley. The freshman lawmaker currently leads Republican state Assemblyman Jeff Gorell by about 2,400 votes in the Ventura County-based 26th District. Gorell has not conceded the race, but he acknowledged in a Facebook post that the odds were stacked against him. In the Sacramento-based 7th District, Democratic Rep. Ami Bera took a 711-vote lead over former Republican Rep. Doug Ose after another batch of votes were added to the tally. It’s the first time Bera has led the count since Election Day, when he was down more than 3,000 votes to Ose. Officials have more outstanding ballots left to be counted, and the AP has yet to call the race.  

Finally, in California’s 16th District, Democratic Rep. Jim Costa also took his first lead over his GOP opponent since Election Day. Costa now leads Republican Johnny Tacherra by 82 votes. Few ballots remain to be counted in the district, but the slim margin could drag the race on.  

Emily Cahn contributed to this report.  Related Stories: How David Perdue Knew He Would Win The Best Congressional Campaigns of 2014 How Elise Stefanik Became the Youngest Woman Ever Elected to Congress Welcome to Capitol Hill! Hit the Ground Running Roll Call Results Map: Results and District Profiles for Every Seat Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.