Ahwatukee Foothills will have near-solid Republican representation at both state and federal levels when newly elected candidates take office in January, according to unofficial vote tallies available Wednesday from the Maricopa County Elections Department.
Local incumbent Democrats like U.S. Rep. Harry Mitchell (D-Ariz.) and state Rep. Rae Waters (D-Ahwatukee Foothills) were swept out of office Tuesday as the Republican Party surged nationwide. The only local Democrat to keep her seat was Elizabeth Rogers, who defeated Republican Don Calender to be reelected as Kyrene Justice of the Peace.
"Last night voters confirmed what we saw all around the country, that Americans from all ideologies are sick of the spending and the debt," said John Lewis, campaign field director for David Schweikert, the Republican who defeated Mitchell by a 53 percent to 42 percent margin.
Mitchell was first elected to Congress in 2006 after defeating incumbent Rep. J.D. Hayworth, who unsuccessfully challenged John McCain for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate this year. Mitchell successfully defended his seat against Schweikert in 2008.
In a statement Wednesday, Mitchell said he doesn't regret his voting record.
"I've always done what I believed was best for this district, for our state and for our country," Mitchell said. "This is what I was elected to do - to make tough decisions - knowing that some are not always as popular as others."
Mitchell's support for national health care reform legislation this year had become a bone of contention for many constituents. His spokesman, Robbie Sherwood, said local Republican candidates benefitted from the general swell of support for that party.
"It's not like there's a feeling that there was something he could have done to change it," Sherwood said. "It was a wave election."
Waters, an Ahwatukee Foothills resident and Democrat who spent one term in the state House of Representatives, said she believes that many voters were angry this time around and that they made decisions on the basis of emotion. However, she said she wished good luck to Bob Robson and Jeff Dial, the two Republicans who will replace her and exiting Republican Rep. John McComish in the state's lower house. McComish ran unopposed for the state Senate.
"I don't regret a moment of the past two years and can leave the Legislature with my head held high, grateful for the opportunity to support education and stand up for my neighbors, friends, and all voters," Waters said in a statement Wednesday.
Dial acknowledged that the nationwide Republican surge benefited his campaign.
"I think it definitely helped, but people look at the candidates. You still have to have a good message," he said.
Robson said he believes the election was about job creation.
"People are concerned about losing their jobs. I think they sent a message," he said.
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