TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Former Air Force pilot Martha McSally conceded to U.S. Rep. Ron Barber on Saturday in their hotly contested congressional race.
The Republican called Barber with congratulations and held an afternoon news conference to announce she has accepted defeat in the Arizona Congressional District 2 election.
Barber's lead increased to 1,402 votes Friday night, with more than 285,000 ballots counted. The Democrat has 50.15 percent of the vote, McSally 49.66 percent.
The increase prompted The Associated Press to call the race for Barber, who a special election in June to replace former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Barber was Giffords' chief of staff.
More than 16,000 provisional ballots remain to be counted in Pima County, election officials said. It's unclear how many include voting for CD 2. Two other congresssional districts include part of Pima County.
"I am running against an incumbent...an incumbent who is closely connected with Gabby Giffords," McSally said. "And all of those things were certainly not in our favor, and look how close we came."
Barber's victory means Democrats have the majority of the state's congressional delegation, holding five of the state's nine U.S. House seats.
"I cannot do all these things, that we've talked about, alone," Barber said to supporters. "I need continued engagement of all of you. The campaign is over but the work is just beginning."
The Republicans had a 5-3 advantage in the state's U.S. House delegation going into the Nov. 6 election, which filled a new ninth seat.
Democrat Krysten Sinema won the new Phoenix-area 9th District over former Paradise Valley mayor Vernon Parker, while Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick regained her old congressional seat by beating Republican Jonathan Paton in CD 1.
With Rep. Jeff Flake's victory over Democrat Richard Carmona, Republicans will continue to hold both of the state's U.S. Senate seats. John McCain is the state's senior senator.
CD 2 covers parts of Tucson and Pima County and all of Cochise County.