PHOENIX - Former Democratic Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick has defeated former Republican state lawmaker Jonathan Paton to win Arizona's 1st Congressional District seat.
Kirkpatrick had enough of a lead Wednesday for The Associated Press to declare her the winner.
The race had been considered a tossup and featured millions of dollars in ad spending.
Paton counted on backing from conservatives and moderates wary of Kirkpatrick for backing President Barack Obama's polices when she represented the district from 2008 until 2010.
The state's largest district runs from Flagstaff through eastern Arizona counties and then west into parts of Pinal County and includes the Navajo Nation where Kirkpatrick has strong support.
The district has more Democrats than Republicans but nearly a third of registered voters are independents.
Ann Kirkpatrick issued the following statement upon winning the race:
The voters of District 1 have spoken, and I will never forget that they are the reason I am returning to Congress. I will be deeply honored to represent them again.
"There are few districts in our nation quite like CD1, and its diversity and complexities are not always understood by outsiders. But the voters of this district ultimately decide who represents them, and their voice has been heard.
"I thank my opponent, Jonathan Paton, for the spirited race he ran, and I extend my hand to the folks who voted for him - I will work hard to give them a voice in D.C. That's what representation is all about. It's about listening, about finding common ground, about working toward solutions.
"Every day on the campaign trail, I was reminded of what unites the more than 80 communities across our sprawling district: creating jobs, protecting Medicare, strengthening education, helping our veterans. These are not partisan issues, they are the very foundation of our future.
"I ran on these issues, and they will be my priorities in Congress. I look forward to once again representing the good people of District 1 - my extended family.