Republican wins Arizona House recount
© Scott Wong

The closest race of the 2014 midterm election cycle has finally been decided, with Republican Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyElection Countdown: Trump confident about midterms in Hill.TV interview | Kavanaugh controversy tests candidates | Sanders, Warren ponder if both can run | Super PACs spending big | Two states open general election voting Friday | Latest Senate polls The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by United Against Nuclear Iran — Kavanaugh and his accuser will testify publicly The Memo: Kavanaugh firestorm consumes political world MORE defeating Rep. Ron BarberRonald (Ron) Sylvester BarberKavanaugh nomination a make or break moment to repeal Citizens United Latina Leaders to Watch 2018 Principles and actions mean more than Jeff Flake’s words MORE (D-Ariz.) after a protracted recount. 

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In a statement, McSally thanked Barber for his service and said she’d seek his input on issues going forward.

"There's no getting around that this was an incredibly close and hard-fought race,” she said. “After what's been a long campaign season, it's time to come together and heal our community. That's why my focus will be on what unites us, not what divides us, such as providing better economic opportunity for our families and ensuring our country and community are kept safe." 

The victory for McSally, a former combat pilot in the U.S. Air Force, cements a dominant cycle for Republicans in which they picked up 13 seats in the House and gained a 247 to 188 advantage over Democrats. It’s their largest majority in the House since World War II.

“Martha McSally has broken barriers her entire life, and I know she will continue to fight for the issues she is passionate about in Washington. From growing jobs to securing our border, Martha will be an effective and common-sense representative for Southern Arizona," National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Greg Walden (Ore.) said in a statement. 

Barber trailed McSally by only 161 votes after Election Day out of more than 220,000 votes cast in the fight to represent Arizona’s 2nd District. The narrow margin triggered an automatic recount, which found McSally ending with a 167-vote advantage.

The Barber campaign launched a handful of legal challenges ahead of the recount in an effort to include more than 130 provisional ballots it believed were legally cast but erroneously disqualified.

The Board of Supervisors in Pima and Cochise counties ruled against allowing more time to consider the provisional ballots, and the Barber campaign also lost a challenge it filed in federal district court.

Barber conceded the race to McSally and will not launch any further challenges to the recount in court. However, he said he was proud of his efforts to include the provisional ballots his team believes were wrongly excluded.

"Today I congratulated Martha McSally on her victory, and wished her well in serving Southern Arizonans,” Barber said in a statement. “This result is not the one we hoped for, but we take solace in having spoken out loud and clear for the principle that every legal vote should be counted. As in every election system, there are imperfections in ours, and we must work to correct them. When an election is as close as this one has been, we do our best to arrive at the correct result, and then accept it with respect for the voters.”

Barber and McSally were both in Washington during the lame duck.

Barber continued with his duties as a representative, while McSally, who declared victory in November, attended new member orientation and began hiring staff.

The race for former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’s (D-Ariz.) seat was a top target by both Republicans and Democrats in the 2014 cycle after a similarly close race in 2012, when Barber narrowly defeated McSally.

Barber was the district director for Giffords and was wounded in the mass shooting in 2011 that killed six people and seriously injured the congresswoman. Giffords stepped down in early 2012 to focus on her recovery.

—This post was updated at 1 p.m.