As of 5:00 p.m. Monday, Sinema received 1,097,321 votes (49.68%), while Republican candidate Martha McSally received 1,059,124 votes (47.96%). She said: "I just called Kyrsten Sinema and congratulated her on becoming Arizona's first female senator after a hard-fought battle".
McSally, a one-time #NeverTrumper and a retired Air Force combat pilot, changed her tune to survive a three-way GOP primary. "I wish her all success as she represents Arizona in the Senate", McSally said in a video posted on Twitter Monday night.
McSally could still, however, become a senator.
Democrats, who reclaimed control of the House of Representatives in the midterms, have now flipped two Senate seats: Arizona and Nevada.
Sinema said the former prisoner of war and GOP presidential nominee was "irreplaceable" and "taught us to assume the best in others, to seek compromise instead of sewing division, & to always put country ahead of party". That person would run for re-election in 2020.
With Florida in a recount and MS, the current U.S. Senate makeup for the next Congress stands at 51 Republicans to 48 Democrats. Sinema opened up a narrow but insurmountable lead. Bill Nelson will hold. The final makeup of the Senate will be determined following a recount in Florida and a November 27 runoff election in Mississippi.
Mississippi's Senate race is headed to a run-off, which is expected to be won by Republican incumbent Cindy Hyde-Smith. MS is a state with a dark history of racial violence including lynchings, and Hyde-Smith's Democratic opponent Mike Espy is African-American. Because of a state law requiring ballots to be sealed and signed, and signatures to match those on voter registration forms, it routinely takes the state longer than most to tally its results.
Now heading to the Upper Chamber, it will be interesting to see if Sinema channels that maverick spirit that party leaders from both sides of the aisle begrudgingly respected in McCain and Flake.
Sinema, a member of the centrist Blue Dog caucus in the House, had campaigned as a moderate.
McSally hammered Sinema over her former liberal stances and claimed she was pretending to be a centrist. McSally argued that she would protect patients, despite her vote on the bill that would have removed many of those protections. On the other hand, McSally was hurt by her vote to strip people of coverage for pre-existing conditions, something she tried to deny.