Kirkpatrick defeats Paton in 1st District race

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PHOENIX (AP) -- Former Democratic Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick will head to Congress for a second time after defeating former Republican state lawmaker Jonathan Paton to win Arizona's 1st Congressional District seat.

Kirkpatrick had enough of a lead Wednesday for The Associated Press to declare her the winner.

The race had been considered a tossup and featured millions of dollars in ad spending.

"The voters in CD1 have spoken and I just have to tell you I feel humbled and honored to serve them again and it's time to get to work," Kirkpatrick said.

Paton declined to comment at length, saying he wanted to wait until all the outstanding votes were counted.

Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett said that as of Wednesday afternoon, there were more than 602,000 early and provisional ballots statewide that had yet to be processed and counted.

"There's still lots of ballots out there to be counted, and we're going to go through that process," he said. "That's all I really am going to say about it."

Paton counted on backing from conservatives and moderates wary of Kirkpatrick for backing President Barack Obama's polices when she represented the district from 2008 until 2010, and early tallies showed him with a slim lead.

But that changed early Wednesday when votes from several tribal districts came in and tilted the results decisively toward Kirkpatrick.

Kirkpatrick represented the district for one term before being ousted by a conservative Republican in 2010, Paul Gosar. After redistricting made the district less conservative, Gosar moved to northwestern Arizona's 4th district and won election on Tuesday.

The state's largest district runs from Flagstaff through eastern Arizona counties and then west into parts of Pinal County and includes the Navajo Nation where Kirkpatrick has strong support.

The 1st district has more Democrats than Republicans, but nearly a third of registered voters are independents.

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