In one of the more surprising results from this month’s midterm election, Democrat Keith Seaman, a retired public-school teacher, edged Republican Rob Hudelson for the second seat in Legislative District 16 in the Arizona House of Representatives by a margin of just 644 votes, or 0.62%.
The fact that a Democrat could take a seat in a district that has 37.9% Republican voters to just 24.9% Democrats is surprising. The district has 36.4% independents and 0.7% Libertarians.
Republican Teresa Martinez, running her first state House race, won the two-seat election by about 4,500 votes and 4.38% over Seaman. Martinez was subsequently named GOP House majority whip, making her the third-ranking party member in the chamber.
Despite repeated attempts, Seaman could not be reached for comment, but he did post a reaction on his campaign Facebook page.
“After a long and important election process, we have won!” Seaman posted. “This victory is owed to the hard working and diligent volunteers and supporters of this campaign throughout rural Arizona. You put partisan politics aside and fought to be a part of the solution to the problems we collectively face. With this victory comes a renewed hope for rural families, students, teachers and community members. I will go to work at the Capitol every day ready to work and fight for our community in LD16.
“We will continue to invest in public education, strengthen voting protections, and ensure Arizonans can access and afford the quality healthcare they deserve. Thank you to my family who was with me every step of the way and to my tireless campaign manager Lindsay. Thank you to our staff, volunteers and supporters – let’s get to work!”
A Seaman supporter, Janell Hunt, posted a reply on Facebook stating the characteristics she thought carried Seaman to a House seat in a historically Republican district.
“Having worked with you inside and outside of politics, I know you’re a man of action, not just words, and that you follow through when you’ve made a commitment,” Hunt’s post said. “Your district, the Arizona Legislature and all of us in this state are fortunate to be facing the future with you in (the state House of Representatives). Thanks for stepping up.”
Republicans will gain at least one seat in the state House this cycle. They held a 31-29 advantage in the last cycle but will hold at least 32 seats in the coming term.
Republicans have won 31 seats thus far and Democrats 27, with two races still too close to call. In those races, one is between a Republican and a Democrat for the second seat; the other is between two Republicans.