Almost two weeks after the election, U.S. Rep. Ron Barber was finally able to give his victory speech.
Barber and his supporters celebrated his victory Saturday after his challenger, Republican Martha McSally, conceded that she could not win the tight race for Arizona's new 2nd Congressional District.
McSally conceded despite the fact that thousands of ballots had yet to be counted. The two had been running neck and neck, with the number of votes separating them in the double digits at times. Both were invited to an orientation session last week for new members of Congress.
But by Friday night, Barber was ahead by 1,402 votes out of more than 285,000 ballots counted. That gave him 50.15 percent of the vote to McSally's 49.66 percent.
Although 16,000 provisional ballots in Pima County have yet to be counted, Barber's lead has not just held, but has grown in recent days. Her strongest support was in Cochise County, where all ballots had been counted.
After considering the trend line, McSally determined she could not win.
Dozens of Barber's supporters packed into his small midtown campaign office chanting his name as they waited for his long-awaited speech.
In it, Barber reiterated his vow to support middle-class families.
"Now, our charge and our mandate is clear and that is to stand up for the middle class and look out for Southern Arizona's future," Barber said after thanking his family, campaign staff and supporters.
Some of Barber's upcoming tasks include working with the rest of Congress to address proposed cuts to close the budget deficit and the expiration of the Bush-era tax cuts.
Barber, who doesn't support the cuts, said he voted for a tax increase that would call on the highest earners to pay their "fair share" of taxes.
He also wants to make sure tax credits that help middle class families, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit, continue, he said.
"We cannot cut our way out of this deficit. We have to have new revenues," he said.
McSally held her own news conference earlier in the afternoon in the parking lot of her campaign headquarters to thank her supporters.
"The last 11 days reminds me of running the Ironman triathlon and thinking you're coming up on the finish line, only to find out you had to run another 10K," McSally said.
McSally said she called Barber to congratulate him. She described the race as an "amazing journey," saying she was inspired by her voters' support.
"There was something that we did together that instilled in people a hope that it's not about parties - it's about doing the right thing," she said.
Barber easily won a June special election to finish out the term of former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who resigned to focus on her recovery after being shot through the brain on Jan. 8, 2011. Barber, who was Giffords' district director, also was shot that day. Giffords endorsed his candidacy.
His narrow victory in this race means Democrats have the majority of the state's congressional delegation, holding five of the state's nine U.S. House seats, while Republicans' only congressional victories in Arizona were in districts safe for GOP candidates.
The Republicans had a 5-3 advantage in the state's U.S. House delegation going into the Nov. 6 election, which filled a new ninth seat.
Democrat Kyrsten Sinema won the new Phoenix-area 9th District over former Paradise Valley Mayor Vernon Parker, while Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick regained her old congressional seat by beating Republican Jonathan Paton in the 1st District.
With Rep. Jeff Flake's victory over Democrat Richard Carmona, Republicans will continue to hold both of the state's U.S. Senate seats.
"Now, our charge and our mandate is clear and that is to stand up for the middle class and look out for Southern Arizona's future."
U.S. Rep. Ron Barber,
after thanking his family, campaign staff and supporters
The Associated Press contributed to this report. Contact reporter Jamar Younger at email@example.com or 573-4115. On Twitter: @JamarYounger