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Eli Crane defeats Tom O’Halleran, flipping a seat to Republican control

By: - November 11, 2022 3:30 pm

Eli Crane at a Republican election campaign event on Nov. 7, 2022. Photo by Gage Skidmore (modified) | Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

Republican Eli Crane has defeated three-term incumbent U.S. Rep. Tom O’Halleran, turning Arizona’s largest congressional district red. 

Congressional District 2 was redrawn in redistricting to go from a highly competitive district to one in which Republicans had a sizable advantage. O’Halleran, a former GOP state legislator who became a Democrat in 2015, relied on his voting record representing the district, including the Navajo Nation, to hold onto the seat.

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Crane, a businessman and former Navy Seal, was endorsed by former President Donald Trump. He currently is leading O’Halleran 54% to 46%.

O’Halleran conceded on Thursday after the Associated Press called the election, thanking his supporters for their hard work. 

“There’s no denying that my team and I are incredibly disappointed in these results, but I thank the families of Arizona’s First District for giving me the opportunity to serve you these last six years,” O’Halleran said. “I thank my opponent for a well-fought and challenging race and wish him all the best in his service to Arizona’s Second District.”

Crane will now represent the district, which covers most of northeastern Arizona and extends south to the communities north of Tucson. 

“In Congress, I will never forget whom I serve or why the people sent me to represent them,” Crane said in a statement. “I will always be your voice. The America First movement has once again sent a clear message tonight to the people of Arizona and the nation.”

The total population within District 2 is more than 794,000 people, with over 628,000 voting age, according to data from the AIRC. The district’s voting history splits 53% toward Republicans and 46% toward Democratic.

The Congressional District 2 map also includes 14 tribes in northern, eastern, and central Arizona, and those tribal members make up about 20% of the district’s population. 

The new district caused the most concern for Indigenous communities residing within its boundaries because it leaned in favor of the Republican Party.

Native voting advocates voiced their concerns about the district throughout the redistricting process, stating that it did not represent what voters. 

In September, Navajo County Democrats Board Chair Missa Foy said that the land mass in CD2 is huge, covering 60% of Arizona, a large portion of that being tribal land.

Due to redistricting, Foy said voting in District 2 shifted by seven points to the right, and District 2 is the most Native district. That shift left Native voters at a disadvantage.

Foy and Executive Director Jaynie Parrish with the Navajo County Democrats stated that the outcome for CD2 is not what they wanted but it is what they will work with. 

“Midterm elections are always a challenge, even without the blatantly partisan redistricting we witnessed last year,”they said in a statement. “We have a new district and a great deal of concern about the incoming representative for our region.”

“We will hold the new representative accountable for the decisions he makes for our district,” they added. “We are always up against a lot of barriers, now even more so as we see the impacts of redistricting start to unfold.”

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Shondiin Silversmith
Shondiin Silversmith

Shondiin Silversmith is an award-winning Native journalist based on the Navajo Nation. Silversmith has covered Indigenous communities for more than 10 years, and covers Arizona's 22 federally recognized sovereign tribal nations, as well as national and international Indigenous issues. Her digital, print and audio stories have been published by USA TODAY, The Arizona Republic, Navajo Times, The GroundTruth Project and PRX's "The World." Silversmith earned her master's degree in journalism and mass communication in Boston before moving back to Arizona to continue reporting stories on Indigenous communities. She is a member of the Native American Journalist Association and has made it a priority in her career to advocate, pitch and develop stories surrounding Indigenous communities in the newsrooms she works in.

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