Recount next in Barber-McSally race in Arizona 2nd

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

PHOENIX (AP) -- A recount will be needed to determine if Republican Martha McSally's lead over Democratic Rep. Ron Barber stands, according to unofficial election results from Pima County completed Wednesday.

McSally leads Barber in southern Arizona's 2nd Congressional District race by 161 votes out of more than 220,000 cast. That's less than the number that triggers a mandatory recount under state law.

McSally quickly declared victory, issuing a statement saying she expects the results to stand.

"After nearly three years, some twenty million dollars in ads, and two campaigns, it's time to come together," McSally said. "We are united in our love for Southern Arizona - for the people and places that make this unique community our home. It's time to move from campaigning to governing and working together to bring more opportunity here and move Southern Arizona forward."

Barber won a special election in June 2012 to replace Rep. Gabby Giffords after both were wounded in a 2011 assassination attempt targeting her while he served as her district director. He then beat McSally in November 2012 to win a full term in a tight race.

McSally is a former Air Force combat pilot.

In an interview late Tuesday, after it was clear a recount would be likely, Barber said he was holding out hope.

"It's not over," he said. "Recounts can change that and we certainly plan on making sure that every vote is counted."

The final ballots were counted Wednesday evening after the county recorder verified less than 100 provisional ballots and about 208 other ballots.

Cochise County already finished counting their ballots.

The automatic recount will take place after the official state canvass of results on Dec. 1.

The final tally came after days where Barber slowly narrowed McSally's lead but ultimately came up short.

On Wednesday, Pima County elections officials discovered 208 additional ballots. Pima County Recorder F. Ann Rodriguez said county elections officials found the additional general election ballots while processing envelopes for a special ballot for the Continental School District.

School district residents on an early voting list were sent the special ballots because the general election ballot they had received incorrectly said they were to vote for three school board members instead of two.

The county Election Department chose to resend voters an additional ballot just for the school board election.

But some voters apparently returned their general election ballot in the special ballot envelope by mistake.

If McSally ultimately prevails, it would be the only victory by a Republican in the three Arizona congressional seats now held by Democrats that Republicans targeted this year. Reps. Ann Kirkpatrick and Kyrsten Sinema easily won re-election.

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