Politics

New Member: Democrat O'Halleran Replaces Kirkpatrick in Arizona’s 1st District

Kirkpatrick vacated her House seat to run for the Senate

Democrat Tom O'Halleran will replace Anne Kirkpatrick in Congress. (Photo courtesy Tom O'Halleran Facebook page)

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. 

[Election Results 2016]

O'Halleran will replace three-term Democratic Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, who vacated her seat to run for the Senate against GOP Sen. John McCain. Kirkpatrick lost her Senate race Tuesday night. 

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. 

Coming into Election Day, the race was rated Leans Democratic by The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call. Democrats needed to hold this open seat in order to make gains elsewhere.

[Field Set in Arizona's Tossup House District]

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.

[Democrats and Republicans Optimistic About Hot Arizona House Races]

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.

Contact Bowman at bridgetbowman@rollcall.com and follow her on Twitter @bridgetbhc.

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