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Tobin leads by fewer than 500 votes in congressional race that's too close to call

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FLAGSTAFF, Arizona — House Speaker Andy Tobin held a lead of fewer than 500 votes in his quest for the Republican nomination in a sprawling Arizona congressional district that remained too close to call a day after the election.

Rancher and oilman Gary Kiehne had 15,219 votes, compared with Tobin's 15,689. State Rep. Adam Kwasman was in third place.

The winner will face Democratic Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, who is being targeted by national Republicans in the district that runs from Flagstaff to the northern Tucson suburbs.

There are still several hundred outstanding ballots in the district, including large numbers in Gila and Pima counties.

Tobin's campaign manager is confident of the results and believes the lead will hold.

Meanwhile, Kirkpatrick announced that her campaign is spending $1.75 million on an ad buy, a sign of the type of big spending that the race will attract in the coming months.

Kiehne has been outspent by both candidates but has argued that people in the district don't need to be represented by career politicians.

PHOTO: Former Arizona state Rep. Ruben Gallego, left, celebrates his win in the Democratic primary in the 7th Congressional District, with his wife Kate Gallego, after defeating opponent Mary Rose Wilcox in the Phoenix-area district Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014, in Phoenix. Gallego campaigned on curtailing the rising cost of college education, making sure veterans get timely health care and improving the lives of the poor. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Former Arizona state Rep. Ruben Gallego, left, celebrates his win in the Democratic primary in the 7th Congressional District, with his wife Kate Gallego, after defeating opponent Mary Rose Wilcox in the Phoenix-area district Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014, in Phoenix. Gallego campaigned on curtailing the rising cost of college education, making sure veterans get timely health care and improving the lives of the poor. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

"We always in the big picture thought it would come down to us and Tobin," said Kiehne spokesman Chris Baker.

The primary in the 1st Congressional District is the last remaining contest from a primary night that set the stage for other general election contests.

Retired Air Force Col. Martha McSally won the Republican primary for the 2nd District, creating a rematch of a tight 2012 race between her and Democratic Rep. Ron Barber. He was an aide to Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and replaced her after the two were shot at a 2011 campaign event in Tucson.

In the 9th District, retired Air Force pilot Wendy Rogers won the GOP nod and will try to unseat Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema. The district covers Tempe and parts of Phoenix.

In the 7th District, former Arizona Rep. Ruben Gallego won the Democratic primary, essentially ensuring he takes the Phoenix-area seat. He easily beat out one-time Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox and two others.

Wilcox conceded defeat and said she had no regrets. She said she would welcome any offer from Gallego to help address issues in the largely Hispanic district, particularly when it comes to immigration reform.

Gallego faces no Republican opposition in November's election in the Democratic stronghold held by longtime Rep. Ed Pastor, who is retiring.

Gallego said his experience growing up poor, being the first in his family to go to college and serving in the military will keep him focused on curtailing the cost of higher education, making sure veterans get timely health care and improving the lives of people in the 7th District.

"It was an uphill battle and many people didn't believe we could do it," Gallego said. "But we built a great grassroots organization. ... I want them to know I won't let them down."

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PHOTO: Former Arizona state Rep. Ruben Gallego, left, celebrates his win in the Democratic primary in the 7th Congressional District, with his wife Kate Gallego, defeating his opponent Mary Rose Wilcox in the Phoenix-area district Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014, in Phoenix. Gallego campaigned on curtailing the rising cost of college education, making sure veterans get timely health care and improving the lives of the poor. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
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