(NEW YORK) — Rep. Jeff Flake will defeat Democrat Richard Carmona in what became a surprisingly competitive battle for Arizona’s Senate seat, ABC News projects.
Republican Sen. Jon Kyl’s surprise announcement that he would not seek another term left open a long-held seat in Arizona and gave Democrats one more — albeit unlikely — opportunity to pick up a Republican seat in the Senate.
But over the summer, the race between Carmona, who was a former surgeon general in George W. Bush’s administration, and Flake, a five-term congressman from Arizona’s 6th district, went from being strongly favored for Republicans to being closer than most expected.
Several polls showed Flake holding a moderate lead of 5 or 6 percentage points on the eve of the election, compared with the double-digit lead he held earlier in the year.
Carmona, an independent now running as a Democrat, was dubbed “the most interesting man in the world” in part because of his colorful life story and long resume that included his service as a Special Forces medic in Vietnam, as a SWAT team member and as a surgeon.
The race was a heavily negative one, with both candidates viciously attacking each other throughout the contest.
Flake aired ads casting Carmona as temperamental, difficult to work with and hostile to women. Flake has been cast as a “career politician,” steeped in the partisan ways of Washington.
And on Election Day, Carmona’s supporters accused Flake’s campaign of making misleading robocalls to voters giving them wrong information about where and when they could vote.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio