Presidential race called for Biden, Arizona plays key role

Presidential race called for Biden, Arizona plays key role

Several national news outlets have called the presidential race for former Vice President Joe Biden, who is projected to become the 46th president of the United States. Arizona played a key role in the election.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden speaks at a drive-in election night event at the Chase Center in the early morning hours of Nov. 4, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware. Biden put out a statement Saturday morning, saying he is “honored and humbled” by the trust Americans have placed with them. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden speaks at a drive-in election night event at the Chase Center in the early morning hours of Nov. 4, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware. Biden put out a statement Saturday morning, saying he is “honored and humbled” by the trust Americans have placed with them. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

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PHOENIX – Crowds erupted in both celebration and protest across the nation, including in Arizona, shortly after news organizations called the presidential election for former Vice President Joe Biden on Saturday.

Arizonans had mixed reactions about electing the Democrat to become the 46th president of the United States, especially when votes are still being counted here. Both campaigns considered Arizona pivotal in this election.

Hundreds of Donald Trump supporters flocked to the state Capitol to protest what they see as a rigged election. As the afternoon grew late, some officials expressed concerns about the protests turning violent.

Throughout the day, elected officials took to social media to share their reactions: Democrats rejoiced while at least one Arizona Republican representative vowed to fight on the U.S House floor and refuse to certify the electoral college.

The Associated Press, the oldest and largest American news organization, and a standard bearer in election calls, called the race for Biden Saturday morning.

CNN and Fox News also named Biden the projected winner.

The outlets made the announcements after the AP called Pennsylvania for Democrats Biden and running mate Kamala Harris.

Biden put out a statement Saturday morning, saying he is “honored and humbled” by the trust Americans have placed with them.

“In the face of unprecedented obstacles, a record number of Americans voted. Proving once again, that democracy beats deep in the heart of America,” the statement said. “With the campaign over, it’s time to put the anger and the harsh rhetoric behind us and come together as a nation.”

President Donald Trump refused to back down, tweeting Saturday afternoon: “71,000,000 Legal Votes. The most EVER for a sitting President!”


He promised unspecified legal challenges, releasing a statement that said: “Our campaign will start prosecuting our case in court to ensure election laws are fully upheld and the rightful winner is seated,” according to the Associated Press.

Arizona has played a high-profile role in the election, recognized early as a swing state. On Wednesday, early results led Fox News and the Associated Press to declare Biden the winner in the state, but other major media organizations had hung back while elections officials continued to count thousands of outstanding ballots.

Hundreds of people have gathered daily outside the Maricopa County Tabulation and Election Center in downtown Phoenix to protest. The crowds demanded officials continue to count votes. State and county officials continued to assure the public that they would.

By Saturday afternoon, a large crowd of Trump supporters had gathered at the state Capitol. Many came armed with assault rifles and carried American flags and banners showing their support for Trump. They chanted “Stop the steal” and “Four more years.”

A sea of Trump 2020 and American flags flooded the Arizona state Capitol for the “Stop the Steal” rally Saturday afternoon. (Photo by Hope O’Brien/Cronkite News)

A car covered in flags sits in the parking lot across the street from the Arizona state Capitol. Many of the same flags could be seen throughout the rally. (Photo by Hope O’Brien/Cronkite News)

A Trump supporter holds a flag at the “Stop the Steal” rally in downtown Phoenix early Saturday afternoon. Multiple news outlets have called the presidential race for Joe Biden. (Photo by Kyla Pearce/Cronkite News)

Protestors wave flags in front of the Arizona State Capital for the “Stop the Steal” rally. Chants of “4 more years” and “We love Trump” could be heard. (Photo by Kyla Pearce/Cronkite News)

A young boy holding an American flag watches the speaker at the “Stop the Steal” rally at the Arizona state Capitol on Saturday afternoon. (Photo by Kyla Pearce/Cronkite News)

Hundreds of protesters gathered outside of the Arizona state Capitol on Saturday afternoon for a “Stop the Steal” rally. (Photo by Kyla Pearce/Cronkite News)

A woman wears a Trump 2020 flag as a cape and waves a cross while sitting in a tree at a rally outside the state Capitol in Phoenix on Saturday. (Photo by Hope O’Brien/Cronkite News)

Crowds gathered at the state Capitol Saturday afternoon for a “Stop the Steal” rally. Many came armed and carried American flags and Trump banners. (Photos by Kyla Pearce/Cronkite News)

Crowds also continued to gather outside the Maricopa County Tabulation and Election Center in downtown Phoenix to protest, as they have done for days. The crowds demanded officials continue to count votes. State and county officials continued to assure the public that they would.

On Saturday, the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office issued a warning to media covering the protests to stay within a designated area because of the “potential volatility of these protests.”

Rep. César Chávez, a Democrat who represents the Phoenix neighborhood of Maryvale, requested Gov. Doug Ducey address what Chávez called growing civil unrest and threats of violence from Trump supporters.

In a statement, Chávez said the supporters – many of them armed – are intimidating election workers counting votes by surrounding the building in Phoenix. He also said there was “minimal police presence” at the state Capitol, “a stark contrast to protests against racial injustice earlier this summer.”

“Today, we see an inaction, even as threats and aggression – particularly toward members of the media – increase,” the statement said. “What is the governor’s plan to ensure nobody gets hurt?”

As of mid-afternoon Saturday, Ducey had not tweeted about the election, and the governor’s official website did not include any statements.

The scene was entirely different in Washington, where the most important block in America took on the mood of a block party. Crowds flooded Black Lives Matter Plaza just north of the White House within hours of the announcement by news organizations that had called the race for Biden.

Left: After a morning of golf a Trump club in Northern Virginia, President Donald Trump returned to the White House Saturday just as a huge crowd was gathering to celebrate the news that he appears headed to defeat in the election. Right: Few of the messages were subtle as crowds gathered outside the White House to celebrate President Donald Trump’s apparent defeat at the polls. (Photos by Chase Hunter/Cronkite News)

Champagne corks were popped, people banged on pots and pans, or sang along to “YMCA,” a song that became a staple of Trump campaign rallies. Dance circles formed in the streets, which were closed for blocks around the White House, and chants of “na, na, hey, hey goodbye” broke through the mass of people at the celebration – along with more than an occasional profanity directed at the president.

Trump, who played golf Saturday morning at his club in Northern Virginia, was back in the White House by mid-afternoon and remained there as cars honked horns and people cheered well into the evening through much of the city.

Almost everyone in the crowd wore a facemask and many hoisted homemade signs either expressing displeasure with Trump or excitement at the prospect of a Biden presidency. Biden/Harris flags and T-shirts were present in abundance, along the Pride flags, American flags and more.

“It’s such a relief, I have been praying for days and I have not slept in two or three days,” Conwree Denton, who came from the Maryland suburbs to join the celebration. She said that, as a Black mother, she hopes the next four years can bring police reform so that when her “son leaves the house that I know he’s coming home at night.”

There were no signs of counter protests as the celebration continued throughout the evening, and police maintained a low-key presence throughout the peaceful, but raucous event.

Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris, D-California, addresses supporters at a drive-in election eve rally on Nov. 2, 2020, in Philadelphia. (Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)

Prior to the election in Arizona, Maj. Kyle Key, communications director for the Arizona National Guard, said in a statement that Arizona Guardsmen were “ready to respond when needed” if a civil disturbance occurs.

By 2:46 p.m. Saturday, the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office showed Arizonans had cast 1,627,902 ballots for Biden/Harris and 1,606,714 for the Trump ticket. However, state and county officials are not done with their counts.

As of Saturday morning, officials had between 120,000 to 125,000 votes left to count, with about 46,000 provisional ballots, according to Secretary of State Katie Hobb’s office.

Biden’s apparent win in Arizona marks the first time voters here have elected a Democrat for president since Bill Clinton won reelection in 1996.

Arizona officials had mixed reactions, taking to social media quickly to share their thoughts.

U.S Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Phoenix, tweeted, “We did it!! Arizona for the win!!! #adiostrump

Gallego added in a separate tweet: “Kind of feels surreal, closest thing I can remember feeling like this is landing in America after my time in Iraq. I knew it would happen, just didn’t know when.”

U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Prescott, tweeted, “After 4 years of #NotMyPresident we’re expected to roll over and let them steal an election? I don’t think so.”

He also tweeted: “ThE eLeCtiOn IsNt OvEr UnTiL aLL tHe VoTeS aRe CoUnTed”

Florida GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz called for a fight on the House floor to stop the electoral college from being certified. Gosar responded, “Where do I sign up?” That was echoed by Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Gilbert, who said that rather than “watch the nation stolen from us,” states should refuse to certify Biden electors, who cast the actual Electoral College votes that elect the president.

“We must urge legislators to confirm Trump’s electors when there is demonstrable tampering of electoral outcomes by the vote thieves on the Left,” Biggs wrote Saturday.

Gosar also questioned Hobbs, asking her to prove the election was a “fair count.” In response, Hobbs responded: “Pretty sure you’re the one throwing hissy fits. All of the audit and transparency you’re asking for already exists. I will reiterate – what you’re doing now is dangerous.”


Grant Woods, who was a Republican when he was elected Arizona’s attorney general in the 1990s, left the party and since registered as a Democrat.

He spoke to Arizona PBS Horizon host Ted Simons, and Woods said Biden was his first choice.

“He’s the right person for this time in our country,” Woods said. “It’s a very divisive time, and that’s just the kind of guy Joe is. We need someone of high character, that’s him, somebody who doesn’t view his opponents as enemies, who’s willing to work with Republicans in this case. And that’s Joe Biden.”

Karl Gentles, who ran for Arizona Congressional District 6 and owns a public relations agency, also spoke to Simons and called the news about the Biden-Harris ticket an “amazing, amazing” day for not only democracy. But also “for people of color across this country and around this world who can now see – as they did in Barack Obama – women, young girls and women, can see themselves in the same position. We’re just really thrilled.”

Harris is on her way to becoming the first Black woman and first person of South Asian descent elected as vice president of the United States.

Bettina Nava, who once worked as state director for the late Sen. John McCain and the owner of OH Strategic Communications, spoke to Simons about crossing over to vote for a Democrat. She said what’s so exciting about this election, is that in the first time in many decades, Arizona is a swing state.

“We are a battleground, and that’s good for us. That means that people have to compete for our vote. That means that we are mavericks, and we’re independent, and that you have to come to us with ideas and with character in order to earn our vote.”

The Arizona Democratic Party also released a statement, saying Democrats have made history and turned the Grand Canyon state blue.

“We now have two Democratic senators, an achievement we have not seen in over 50 years,” it said. “And Arizona has delivered its 11 electoral college votes to now President-elect Joe Biden.”

“These victories truly transcend party politics. Democrats, Republicans, and independents came together to elect leaders that will put the people first. The future looks bright for our great state and nation.”

The “blue wave” that Democrats had hoped for swept the top of the ticket, but down-ticket results were mixed. Early returns that showed Democrat Hiral Tipirneni upsetting 6th District Rep. David Schweikert, R-Fountain Hills, later evaporated, and Tipirneni conceded the race to Schweikert on Saturday.

The Black Lives Matter Plaza just north of the White House has been a scene of muted celebration since Election Day, but the celebrations began in earnest Saturday after Democrat Joe Biden was declared president-elect. (Photo by Chase Hunter/Cronkite News)

Within hours of the announcement that news organizations were calling the presidential election for Democrat Joe Biden, thousands had packed the streets around the White House to celebrate. (Photo by Mythili Gubbi/Cronkite News)

Beers were handed out, champagne corks were popped and champagne was sprayed on the crowd – and consumed – by throngs who gathered outside the White House to celebrate President Donald Trump’s apparent defeat. (Photo by Chase Hunter/Cronkite News)

Joe Biden’s supporters began hitting the streets of Washington almost immediately after news outlets predicted he had won enough Electoral College votes to become president-elect. (Photo by Chase Hunter/Cronkite News)

Traffic light poles around the White House were popular perches for protesters celebrating the news Saturday that Joe Biden appears to have clinched the presidential nomination. (Photo by Olivia Munson/Cronkite News)

Music and chants were a large part of the celebration by a diverse crowd that gathered on Black Lives Matter Plaza after new outlets called the presidential election for Democrat Joe Biden. (Photo by Joycelyn Cabrera/Cronkite News)

The remnants of a Trump shirt that was burned by some in the crowd that gathered near Lafayette Square in Washington to celebrate news that the election had been called for Democrat Joe Biden. (Photo by Chase Hunter/Cronkite News)

People marched through neighborhoods all through Washington, and drove through the streets blaring car horns, as residents celebrated the news of President Donald Trump’s apparent defeat at the polls this week. (Photo by MacKenzie Belley/Cronkite News)

A man waves a Biden 2020 flag for the crowd from the top of a stoplight pole at 16th and H streets NW in Washington, just one block north of the White House, where crowds gathered to celebrate Joe Biden’s apparent win. (Photo by Chase Hunter/Cronkite News)

But Democrats appeared poised to nab a second seat on the five-member Arizona Corporation Commission, and were set to gain a majority on the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors. They also gained a seat in the state Senate, but still remain just shy of a majority in both chambers of the statehouse.

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Arizona, released a statement on Twitter: “President-elect Biden and I do not agree on every issue, and just as I did when working with President Trump, I will always vote based on what’s right for Arizona.”

Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego, a Democrat, said on Twitter that this is an “incredible moment for our nation.”

Cronkite News reporters Claire Chandler, Kyla Pearce and Dylan McKim contributed to this article.

Staff

News Reporter, Phoenix

Kyla Pearce

News Reporter, Phoenix

Kyla Pearce, who grew up in Grand Canyon National Park, expects to graduate in spring 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and minors in sustainability and film production. Pearce is a digital reporter who covers sustainability for Cronkite News. She also has interned in media production for the National Park Service.

Dylan McKim

News Reporter, Phoenix

Dylan McKim is a Texas native who expects to graduate in December 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism and a minor in political science. McKim is a television reporter on the politics beat for Cronkite News and has interned as a reporter for KPNX and the Arizona Republic, and as a producer for Arizona PBS.

Chase Hunter

News Reporter, Washington, D.C.

Chase Hunter is an Arizona native who expects to graduate in May 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in philosophy. Hunter has worked at an award-winning school newspaper, interned at the Arizona Republic and contributed to a documentary for the Cronkite School.

Faith Abercrombie

News Reporter, Phoenix

Faith Abercrombie expects to graduate in May 2022 with a degree in journalism. Abercrombie, who has was a videographer for the Phoenix Children’s Hospital Foundation and interned at the city of Phoenix’s PHXTV, was a part of the Cronkite School’s “Life Is …” initiative on youth suicide. She’s a broadcast reporter for Cronkite News this spring.

Hope O’Brien

News Visual Journalist, Phoenix

Hope O’Brien is an Arizona native who expects to graduate in May 2022 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s in mass communication. O’Brien also has worked as a staff writer at the Downtown Devil.

Claire Chandler

News Reporter, Washington, D.C.

Claire Chandler is an Arizona resident who expects to graduate in spring 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communication with a minor in digital audiences. Chandler is working at Cronkite News in Washington, D.C.

Olivia Munson

News Reporter, Phoenix

Olivia Munson expects to graduate in spring 2022 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in women and gender studies. Munson, who has reported for the D.C. Bureau, Times Media Group, The State Press and The Arizona Republic, is working in the Phoenix News Bureau.

Joycelyn Cabrera

News Reporter, Washington, D.C.

Joycelyn Cabrera is an Arizona native who expects to graduate in May 2022 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communication and a minor in digital audiences. She is a digital reporter and producer at Cronkite News in Washington, D.C., and has reported for a nonprofit organization and local news outlets in Arizona.

Mythili Gubbi

News Reporter, Washington, D.C.

Mythili Gubbi is from Bangalore, India, and is pursuing a master’s degree after graduating in May 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and minors in digital audiences and political science. She has interned at the Arizona Legislature, KJZZ and ABC15 Arizona.

MacKenzie Belley

News Broadcast Producer, Phoenix

MacKenzie Belley expects to graduate in May 2021 with a degree in journalism with a focus on broadcast production. Belley, who previously worked for Arizona PBS and as a reporter for Cronkite News in Washington, is a broadcast producer this spring.

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