WASHINGTON – Former Surgeon General Richard Carmona, a Democrat, was unable to overcome Republican Rep. Jeff Flake, keeping the Senate seat from Arizona in the GOP column.
Carmona enjoyed a late surge in the historically Republican state as a moderate, and Latino, candidate, with the state showing signs of an emerging Democratic tilt.
But funding from Democrats nationally and a visit from former President Clinton were not enough to outpace Flake, a six-term congressman from Mesa who is a conservative leader in the House. The Associated Press and CNN projected Flake the winner.
Flake has long railed against spending on pet projects, known as earmarks, and is considered a pre-tea-party Republican.
Carmona, who had been appointed by George W. Bush as surgeon general, was a high school dropout who enlisted in the Army, served in the Vietnam War and then returned home for college.
The seat was left open by the retirement of Sen. Jon Kyl, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate.