As the dust settled on Election Day last week, Martha McSally (R) appeared to have a narrow lead over Kyrsten Sinema (D) in Arizona's closely watched U.S. Senate race. But as the process continued to unfold, it was Sinema who took the lead, and as the Arizona Republic reported overnight, the Democrat's advantage continues to grow.
Sinema expanded her lead to 32,292 votes -- a 1.5 percentage-point lead -- as of 6:20 p.m. Sunday, according to updated counts posted by the Arizona Secretary of State. Her campaign manager predicted her victory was inevitable.The lengthy vote-count process, which has continued long after the polls closed Nov. 6, is mostly due to the need to verify signatures for voters who vote by mail.The Arizona Republic estimates about 215,000 ballots remain to be counted statewide.
It's going to take some time for officials to work through those ballots, and Democrats shouldn't get their hopes up just yet, but Sinema's campaign team insists her lead is "insurmountable," and most election watchers tend to think Sinema will be the one who takes office in the new year.
For his part, Donald Trump has decided to do what Donald Trump always likes to do: peddle odd conspiracy theories. "Just out -- in Arizona, SIGNATURES DON'T MATCH," the confused president tweeted on Friday. "Electoral corruption -- Call for a new Election?" He also said votes in Arizona are materializing "out of the wilderness."
None of this made any sense. There's no evidence of corruption and there won't be a new election, largely because there's no need for one. Trump may be comfortable publicly questioning the integrity of an election for no reason, but the nonsense is literally unbelievable.
McSally, to her credit, hasn't endorsed any of the conspiracy theories, and for her trouble, there's reportedly frustration with her posture "at the highest levels of the national party."
All of which brings us to the National Republican Senatorial Committee, under the leadership of Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.).
On Saturday, one NRSC official claimed, without proof, that an Arizona election official has "destroyed evidence" as part of an illegal scheme to help Democrats. The same day, the NRSC issued a press statement accusing Democrats of engaging in "voter suppression tactics" and "cooking the books."
There's no evidence to back up any of this.
Asked for an explanation as to why his national campaign committee would repeat baseless claims, Cory Gardner told NBC's Chuck Todd on "Meet the Press" yesterday that he wasn't "familiar" with his party's bogus rhetoric. The senator fared no better facing similar questions from CNN's Jake Tapper.
If Gardner had a defense for his party's rhetoric, he didn't share it.
Postscript: In case this isn't obvious, McSally has an alternate route to the Senate. With Jon Kyl (R) temporarily filling the vacancy left by the late Sen. John McCain (R), it's very likely Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) will soon need to find someone else to take that seat. If McSally falls short in the current balloting, don't be surprised if the Republican governor appoints McSally to the position.