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Updated Aug 27, 2014 - 8:23 am

Republicans locked in tight race for Arizona's 1st District

Republican candidates in Arizona's 1st Congressional District. From left, Adam Kwasman, Andy Tobin and Gary Kiehne. (AP and campaign photos)

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. -- The race for the Republican nomination in a congressional district stretching from Flagstaff to the Tucson suburbs remained too close to call early Wednesday, as the lead bounced between Arizona House Speaker Andy Tobin and rancher Gary Kiehne.

State Rep. Adam Kwasman trailed in votes from Tuesday's primary election. The three have been battling for a chance to unseat Democratic Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick in 1st Congressional District, a swing district that has attracted big money from national parties.

Tobin says he's a proven leader. Kwasman contends he's the most conservative in the group. Kiehne has been outspent by both but has argued that people in the vast district don't need to be represented by career politicians.

"We always in the big picture thought it would come down to us and Tobin," said Kiehne spokesman Chris Baker.

Yavapai County, which falls in the 1st District, failed to report official results Tuesday but by Wednesday morning, unofficial election results had Tobin with 50 percent of the vote with nearly all the precincts reporting. Kiehne had 26 percent of the votes.

The county contains the cities of Prescott and portions of Sedona, two of Arizona's larger cities outside of Phoenix, Tucson and Flagstaff.

The lead went back and forth Tuesday between Springerville's Kiehne and Tobin.

During campaigning, Tobin has pointed to his experience and proven leadership.

Kwasman contends he's the most conservative of the group.

Kiehne has been outspent by both but argued people in the vast district don't need to be represented by career politicians.

All three vowed to support whoever becomes the Republican nominee -- later won by Arizona Treasurer Doug Ducey -- with the ultimate goal of beating Kirkpatrick in the November general election.

The KTAR Newsroom contributed to this report.

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