Sen. Mark Kelly holds onto shrinking lead over Blake Masters in Arizona’s US Senate race

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Sen. Mark Kelly held onto a shrinking lead over Republican rival Blake Masters as election officials continued to tally votes Wednesday and with control of the U.S. Senate effectively riding on the result.

Kelly’s advantage had dwindled to mid-single digits by mid-morning Wednesday with more ballots dropped off on Election Day still to be counted.

Unofficial results showed Kelly, D-Ariz., led in early votes by about 18 percentage points. But Masters led Kelly in ballots cast at polling sites by about 38 percentage points among those tallied by mid-morning Wednesday.

Maricopa County officials said there were more than 400,000 ballots still to be counted. Both sides maintained they had a path to victory in a race that resembled the toss-up many predicted in the final days of the campaign.

Election coverage: Live voting updates | Arizona election results

Blake Masters (left) and Mark KellyBlake Masters (left) and Mark Kelly

Blake Masters (left) and Mark Kelly

While Masters has significantly cut into Kelly’s lead, there remains a notable gap between Masters’ support and Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, who has nearly caught Democrat Katie Hobbs.

As of mid-morning, Lake had collected 303,000 votes compared to Masters’ 293,000.

That 10,000-vote gap is about double what Hobbs was running behind Kelly.

One other complication for Masters is the support still going to Libertarian Marc Victor, who quit the race in the final week and asked his supporters to back Masters.

In early voting, Victor pulled in support from more than 2% of voters. In Election Day voting, he was still collecting about 1.7%.

The numbers are small, but it still represents a potential loss to Masters of more than 7,000 votes already and in a race that could come be settled by a few thousand.

The race takes on an added measure of importance with control of the Senate appearing to hinge on the outcomes in Arizona, Nevada and Georgia.

In Nevada, Republican Adam Laxalt held to a narrow lead over Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., early Wednesday.

In Georgia, Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., also held a small lead over Republican Herschel Walker, but election officials have said it appears unlikely that either man can win a majority, which means it would go to a runoff.

Reach the reporter Ronald J. Hansen at ronald.hansen@arizonarepublic.com or 602-444-4493. Follow him on Twitter @ronaldjhansen.

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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Sen. Mark Kelly holds shrinking lead over Blake Masters