PHOENIX (AP) — A handful of U.S. House races in Arizona remained too early to call as Republicans hoped to shift the state's 5-4 Democratic tilt by picking up two and possibly three seats.
Redistricting after the 2020 U.S. Census gave the GOP candidates a leg up in those three districts. Meanwhile, a district that had strongly favored Republicans for the past decade got only slightly less GOP-friendly. Incumbents in four of the other five districts easily won their races Tuesday, but the fifth was too tight to declare a winner.
Nationally, Republicans need to net just five seats to take control of the U.S. House.
The most vulnerable Democratic incumbent is three-term U.S. Rep. Tom O'Halleran, whose sprawling 2nd Congressional District covers much of northeastern Arizona and dips south to the northern Tucson suburbs. Redistricting remade the district into one that strongly favors the GOP by drawing in the Prescott area.
O'Halleran hoped his voting record as a moderate was enough to overcome the heavy Republican advantage as he faced political newcomer Eli Crane. A businessman and former Navy SEAL, Crane had the endorsement of former President Donald Trump.
Democratic Rep. Greg Stanton had a better chance of beating Republican Kelly Cooper, a restaurant owner and Marine veteran who is another political newcomer, in the 4th District that includes parts of Tempe, Mesa, Phoenix and Chandler. The district has been held by Democrats since being created a decade ago, but Stanton faced a tougher fight in his bid for a third term.
Cooper, who also had Trump's backing, blamed Stanton and President Joe Biden for inflation, high gas prices and the number of border crossings.
Stanton pointed to Cooper's call to defund the FBI, release people who attacked the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and painted Cooper as an extremist on abortion, which was a big focus for Democrats this year in Tuesday's election.
Southern Arizona's 6th District, held by retiring Democratic Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, was slightly less favorable to Democrats under maps approved last year by the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission.
Republicans chose Juan Ciscomani, a former senior adviser to outgoing GOP Gov. Doug Ducey with strong ties to the business community, as their candidate in the district that runs from Tucson east to the New Mexico border. He faced Kirsten Engel, an environmental law professor who resigned from the state Legislature to run for Congress.
The lone Republican U.S. House incumbent who faced a realistic challenge is David Schweikert, whose wealthy 1st Congressional District covers parts of northeast Phoenix, Scottsdale, Paradise Valley and Fountain Hills. He faced Democrat Jevin Hodge, who runs a Head Start program and has called out Schweikert for past ethics issues and his support for Trump.
Schweikert said voters in the slightly less GOP-tilted district prefer his positions on the economy.
Republican Reps. Debbie Lesko in the 8th District and Paul Gosar in the 9th faced only write-in candidates and won. Democratic Reps. Ruben Gallego in the 3rd District and Raul Grijalva in the 7th also were reelected.
Republican Rep. Andy Biggs was expected to cruise to victory because of the political makeup of his district, but the race against Democrat Javier Ramos also was too close to call Tuesday night.
Associated Press writer Felicia Fonseca in Flagstaff, Arizona, contributed to this story.
Learn more about the issues and factors at play in the midterms at https://apnews.com/hub/explaining-the-elections. And follow the AP’s election coverage of the 2022 elections at https://apnews.com/hub/2022-midterm-elections.