Recount looms in Arizona House race
© Greg Nash

Rep. Ron BarberRonald (Ron) Sylvester BarberPrinciples and actions mean more than Jeff Flake’s words Giffords to lawmakers avoiding town halls: 'Have some courage' Ten House seats Dems hope Trump will tilt MORE (D-Ariz.) and Republican Martha McSally are both going about business as usual on Capitol Hill while gearing up for a recount back home that could stretch through the end of the lame-duck session.

The GOP hopeful, who leads by 161 votes, attended freshman orientation in Washington this week, optimistic that her advantage would hold. Meanwhile, 

Barber lost a legal challenge on Tuesday that might have been his best shot at closing the gap. 

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“Some of these cases of votes not getting counted make your hair stand on end,” a Barber ally told The Hill.

The Democrat’s campaign petitioned the Pima County Board of Supervisors to delay certifying election results to allow time for consideration of more than 130 provisional ballots the campaign says have been erroneously disqualified.

 The Barber camp says the votes were rejected because, in some cases, the voters’ addresses weren’t on the voter rolls, the voter accidentally cast a ballot at the wrong polling place, the voter had recently moved, a signature didn’t match or an early mail-in ballot wasn’t received.

However, the McSally campaign argued that some of the ballots are missing critical requirements, like a poll worker’s signature, and only missing ballots can provoke a delay in certifying a canvass, and these were never missing.

 The Board — comprised of three Democrats and two Republicans — ruled 4 to 1 against delaying certifying the results to allow for more time to verify the provisional ballots in question.

 Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), who chaired the election board early in his career, told The Hill the members were likely seeking to be prudent by kicking the issue to the real election authority in Arizona, Republican Secretary of State Ken Bennett, who is now on the clock to certify the results by Dec. 1. That’s also the view of an aide close to the Barber campaign.

 Even with the setback, Barber is ready to challenge the recount at every turn.

 A Democratic ally said the campaign will issue a similar provisional ballots appeal to Bennett in hopes of getting the votes included before the recount gets underway. If that’s unsuccessful, they will make the same petition to the Maricopa County judge who ends up overseeing the recount, and will perhaps even challenge the result of the recount itself.

 McSally, a former combat pilot with the U.S. Air Force, is also geared up for the fight.

 “We were ready on Nov. 5 to have staff and a legal team in place to oversee the recount process,” a campaign aide told The Hill. “We’re prepared for it, and we’ll see it through.”

 The Arizona secretary of State now has until Dec. 1 to certify the results, and if they come in at less than 0.1 percent of the total, where they stand now, Bennett will be required to present them to a judge for a recount. A representative for the Arizona secretary of State said the recount would likely take about a week.

 However, the Barber campaign would then have five days to challenge those results. A McSally campaign aide said they’re not planning on the finalized results being ready before the third week of December, near the end of the lame-duck session.

 But without a material change in the ballots that are counted, the McSally campaign is confident the present outcome will hold through the recount. Republicans say that, while there will likely be “some variance,” at the end of the day, “these are scanned ballots going through the same machines.”

 In fact, the McSally campaign is so confident in the current results that they declared victory on Nov. 12, much to the chagrin of the Barber campaign, even though a mandatory recount loomed. 

 A few days later, McSally announced she’d hired a local businessman to serve as chairman of the transition team responsible for hiring her staff on Capitol Hill.

 On Tuesday, shortly after learning that his legal challenge had failed, Barber walked through the Speaker’s Lobby to the House floor for votes. He got pats on the back from Reps. Susan Davis (D-Calif.), Sandy Levin (D-Mich.), and Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffHouse Democrat slams Donald Trump Jr. for ‘serious case of amnesia’ after testimony Top intel Dem: Trump Jr. refused to answer questions about Trump Tower discussions with father Erik Prince says meeting with Russian banker unrelated to Trump campaign MORE (D-Calif.), who mingled with him on the House floor.