A jubilant crowd packed into Republican David Schweikert’s campaign headquarters, cheering as preliminary election results trickled in Tuesday night.
Schweikert, while hesitant to call the Congressional District 5 race, said this year may be different for him and his wife than when he ran against Rep. Harry Mitchell for the first time two years ago.
“Two years ago when we lost it was actually on our wedding anniversary,” Schweikert said. “This time I think we’ll have something new to celebrate.”
Schweikert earned about 52 percent of the vote to Mitchell’s 42 percent, according to the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office.
After results came in, Mitchell spoke to a crowd of cheering supporters at the Tempe Mission Palms Hotel, saying much was accomplished in his four years in office.
“I would not have changed a thing,” he said. “Not one vote, not one decision.”
Schweikert served as Maricopa County Treasurer from 2004 to 2007 and as a state legislator from 1991 to 1994. He also ran for Congress in 1994, but lost in the primary.
Schweikert said voters in District 5, which covers Scottsdale, Tempe and Fountain Hills, were different this year.
“It’s been much easier to have our story heard this time than two years ago,” Schweikert said. “[Voters] seem more knowledgeable; they understand the crisis of debt.”
He spent the evening with supporters at his headquarters in Scottsdale.
“You hang out with the people that brought you,” he said. “You hang out with the people who supported you and gave you so much of their lives for six months.”
Congressional District 5 had been considered vulnerable for the incumbent, with polls showing the two almost tied among likely voters leading up to the general election.
Mitchell said he plans to spend more time with his family.
“I’ll enjoy a lot more time with my five grandkids,” Mitchell said.
Political science junior Sarah Aagard, vice president of ASU’s Young Democrats, said it was positive that Democrats managed to hang on to some of their seats in Arizona’s Legislative District 17, covering Tempe and South Scottsdale.
“We’re keeping our Democrats at the local level,” Aagard said. “There are still some bright spots in all the bleakness.”
Democratic Rep. David Schapira won his bid for a seat in the state Senate. Rep. Ed Ableser was re-elected and Democrat Ben Arredondo took the other seat in the House.
At Schweikert headquarters, Riley Kult, a high school senior from Ahwatukee, watched a computer screen for election results. A volunteer with the campaign since before the primary, he said it had been a fun experience.
“[Schweikert] really seems genuine to me,” Kult said. “He’s a great guy to work for.”
Kult started volunteering for Schweikert over the summer, and drove to Scottsdale from his home in Ahwatukee Monday through Friday, about a 45-minute drive. When school started, he made the trip every Saturday, he said.
“He’s going to go to Congress and vote the way his constituents want him to vote,” Kult said.
Schweikert volunteer Joyce Walther said this was the first time she had been so involved in a political campaign, having put up campaign signs, sent letters and made calls to voters since before the primary.
“[Schweikert] came across as very sincere and passionate about what he was talking about,” Walther said. “He’s got a plan and he has a sense of toughness about him.”
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