Rancher Gary Kiehne conceded to state House Speaker Andy Tobin in Arizona's 1st district Republican primary on Tuesday, a boon to the GOP's chances of picking up a swing seat in the fall.
In a statement, Kiehne said his "top priority this fall is to see Republicans win here in Arizona, so I want to offer all of my support to our Republican nominee Andy Tobin and all of the other Republican nominees in the general election," according to local reports.
Tobin will now face Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D). Republican strategists had been fretting over the possibility of Kiehne winning the nomination because he has shown a tendency to stoke controversy. For example, Kiehne once blamed "99 percent" of mass shootings on Democrats before later apologizing.
In a statement declaring victory, Tobin acknowledged his Republican opponents.
"I can’t thank my supporters enough for everything they did to get us across the finish line," he said. "I also want to thank Adam Kwasman and Gary Kiehne for a spirited and civil contest, and for committing their support for my campaign in the general election."
The race had been too close to call a week after the primary, with Tobin leading by fewer than 500 votes out of more than 46,000.
Tobin took to Twitter to declare himself ready to shift his focus to the general election.
Honored to have won the support of Republicans in #az01. Thank you to all our supporters. We are ready for the general!
— Andy Tobin (@Andy_Tobin) September 2, 2014