- - Monday, November 12, 2012

PHOENIX — Former Democratic state Sen. Kyrsten Sinema has been elected to represent a new Phoenix-area congressional district, emerging victorious after a bitterly fought race that featured millions of dollars in attack ads.

Ms. Sinema becomes the first openly bisexual member of Congress. Her victory came in a year when three states approved gay marriage and at least five openly gay Democrats were elected to House seats. A Wisconsin congresswoman also became the first openly gay person elected to the Senate.

Ms. Sinema had a narrow lead on election night that made the race too close to call. But she slowly improved that advantage as more ballots were tallied in recent days, and now has a nearly 6,000-vote edge that is too much for Republican Vernon Parker to overcome.

Ms. Sinema, 36, said Monday she was “honored and ready to start working for the people of Arizona.”

Mr. Parker, 52, who took the national stage briefly in September when he gave the GOP weekly address, conceded with a promise to “continue my public service.”

During the race, he was criticized by Democrats as a tea party radical who would hurt children by cutting the federal Education Department.

Republicans countered saying Ms. Sinema was too liberal for the newly created district and doesn’t understand stay-at-home moms.

One other congressional race remains undecided in Arizona. Rep. Ron Barber, the hand-picked successor to Gabrielle Giffords, had a lead of a few hundred votes over Republican Martha McSally in the Tucson-area district.

The Sinema victory ensures that Democrats will gain at least one seat in the Arizona congressional delegation.

Republicans entered the election with a 5-3 advantage, and the new census added a ninth seat in the state. The delegation is now split 4-4, with the Barber-McSally race still up for grabs.

CONGRESS

Tricky trade-off poised to begin negotiations

Republican leaders say the government can raise tax revenue without raising tax rates.

But they have yet to detail how they would pursue it.

The distinction might mean little to Americans who end up with larger tax bills even if their tax rates don’t change.

This politically tricky trade-off is about to take center stage in negotiations over how to reduce the federal deficit and avoid going over the “fiscal cliff” seven weeks from now.

The White House says wealthy Americans must pay a higher tax rate to help produce more revenue to lower the deficit.

Congressional Republicans refuse. But they say they are open to other means of higher tax collections.

That might include limits to popular itemized deductions.

CIA

Scandal proves emails not all that private

Your emails are not nearly as private as you think.

The downfall of CIA Director David H. Petraeus demonstrates how easy it is for federal law enforcement agents to examine emails and computer records if they believe a crime was committed. With subpoenas and warrants, the FBI and other investigating agencies routinely gain access to electronic inboxes and information about email accounts offered by Google, Yahoo and other Internet providers.

Under the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act, federal authorities need only a subpoena approved by a federal prosecutor — not a judge — to obtain electronic messages that are six months old or older. To get more recent communications, a warrant from a judge is required. Critics want the law updated to reflect changes in technology.

DEFENSE

Military’s new reality means a lot less money

One war is over, another is winding down amid loud calls to cut the deficit. The military has had robust budgets for more than a decade and now is coming to grips with a new reality — fewer dollars.

The election accelerated an already shifting political dynamic. The next year will pair a second-term Democratic president searching for spending cuts with tea partyers and conservatives intent on preserving lower tax rates above all else, even if it means once unheard of reductions in defense.

President Obama and Congress have just a few weeks to figure out how to avert the automatic cuts to defense and domestic programs totaling $110 billion next year.

From wire dispatches and staff reports