Republican Jeff Flake has beaten former surgeon general Richard Carmona in the race to fill Arizona's U.S. Senate seat held by retiring Republican Sen. Jon Kyl.

Flake, a six-term Republican congressman, is best known for his fierce opposition to "earmarks" -- special requests for federal dollars for local pet projects such as roads and bridges. He said his opposition is a move away from patronage and a move toward basing funding for projects on merit.

Democrats recruited Carmona to run for Kyl's seat after it became clear that then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords wouldn't campaign because of head injuries she suffered during the January 2011 shooting rampage in Tucson.

The race for the post became more competitive after Flake emerged from a bruising primary against a wealthy businessman, outside groups threw millions of dollars into the race and voters learned more about Carmona, who entered the race as an unknown to many Arizona voters.

Carmona touted his resume -- a career as a medical doctor, military service in Vietnam and law enforcement experience -- and accused Flake of hurting economic development in Arizona through his opposition to earmarks for roads, public-works and water projects.

Flake portrayed Carmona as a hand-picked rubber stamp for Obama and has run an ad in which Carmona's former boss said the former surgeon general has problems controlling his anger and dealing with women.

Carmona countered by rolling out an ad in which a retired sheriff's captain who was his supervisor when he was a SWAT team member said he treated everyone with respect.

Arizona's last Democratic senator was Dennis DeConcini, who retired in 1995. Carmona switched his party registration from independent to Democratic late last year.

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