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McSally gets freshman orientation in DC as recount looms
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McSally gets freshman orientation in DC as recount looms

Barber camp says to wait for final tally

  • Republican Martha McSally’s win in Arizona’s 2nd District in Congress is not yet official, but she has claimed victory and joined incoming members for orientation at the Capitol.
    Camaron Stevenson/Cronkite NewsRepublican Martha McSally’s win in Arizona’s 2nd District in Congress is not yet official, but she has claimed victory and joined incoming members for orientation at the Capitol.

The outcome of the election won’t be official until next month, but congressional hopeful Martha McSally reinforced her recent claim to victory by showing up in Washington, D.C., for freshman orientation Monday.

McSally, a Republican, holds a razor-thin lead over U.S. Rep. Ron Barber, D-Tucson, in the race for Arizona’s 2nd District seat in Congress. The two were separated by just 161 votes out of more than 220,000 ballots cast, a margin that will trigger an automatic recount after ballots are canvassed Dec. 1.

But McSally isn’t waiting around for a recount. After claiming victory last week, she announced on Friday that Chris Shaefe would lead her transition team, and on Monday she showed up at the Capitol for orientation.

Barber has not conceded and his office did not immediately return calls Monday seeking comment on either McSally's victory claim or her participation in orientation.

McSally was not available for comment Monday. But she said last week that it is now time to move on.

“While we still have a recount to go, we expect similar results and will provide the necessary oversight to ensure accurate results,” she said in a press release.

“I'm here to declare victory. We've won,” McSally told about 120 supporters at a party Wednesday evening as the final vote count was reported.

This is the second time McSally and Barber have squared off, with Barber squeaking out a 2012 victory by a margin of less than 1 percent. The 2014 elections brought the margin even closer, with McSally on top by 0.08 percent, according to the most recent numbers from the Secretary of State’s Office.

“After nearly three years, some $20 million in ads, and two campaigns, it’s time to come together,” McSally said in her victory announcement. She added that she was looking forward to “rolling up her sleeves” and getting right to work.

The first step for incoming members of Congress is the New Member Orientation program, organized by the Committee on House Administration, which helps incoming lawmakers transition into their new role.

The chairman of that committee, Rep. Candice Miller, R-Mich., said in her welcome letter that this year’s orientation will prepare the incoming members in every way, “so that they are ready to serve their constituents as soon as they are sworn into office.”

Orientation sessions began last week with sessions on ethics rules, hiring staff and planning for a move to Washington. The sessions have also included a dose of politicking by senior members seeking leadership positions.

New members are scheduled to have their freshman class picture taken Tuesday on the steps of the Capitol and will participate in a lottery Wednesday for the selection of their offices.

While McSally was allowed to attend Monday’s meetings, committee staff did not respond to questions about whether she would be allowed to take part in the class picture or the office lottery.

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