Republican Sen. Jon Kyl defeated Democrat Jim Pederson on Tuesday in a race that turned on voter's attitudes about national security and illegal immigration.

Kyl had 53 percent of the vote while Pederson received about 44 percent with 69 percent of precincts reporting. Libertarian candidate Richard Mack, who ran on an anti-tax, pro-gun rights platform, received 3 percent.

In an Associated Press exit poll, voters who said they felt terrorism and illegal immigration were extremely important factors supported Kyl solidly.

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Pederson followed the playbook of many Democrats this year, positioning himself as the protest choice in hopes that voters had soured so much on Republicans they'd support him Tuesday over Kyl.

Kyl, who won by big margins in his previous two Senate races, spent millions to define Pederson in another way: too loose with money, too inexperienced, too liberal for Arizona.

The candidates broke campaign finance records as they filled the airwaves with TV ads to plead their cases. Kyl and Pederson spent more than $25 million combined, making the Senate campaign the most expensive in state history.

By election day, voters said they were tired of the political bluster.

Pam McClellan, of Phoenix, said she voted for Mack to send a message. "I didn't like Pederson from the get-go because of all the negativity.... Kyl is OK, but I don't like what's going on in Washington."

The exit poll said voters' attitudes about President Bush colored who they wanted in the U.S. Senate. Those who approved of President Bush overwhelmingly supported Kyl, while Pederson was favored by those who disapprove of Bush.

Some voted for Pederson simply because he's not Republican, while others said it was too risky to send someone to the Senate with no experience in national security.

Tiffany Turner, 21, who voted for Pederson, said she knew little about the Democrat except that he's more likely to "pull the troops out of Iraq."

"Naturally, he's a Democrat" Turner said. "And I just don't like Jon Kyl. I think Jon Kyl is in George Bush's right pocket."

Jeremy Bessee, 32, of Phoenix said he preferred Kyl because "he's been here since 9-11."

"He's experienced with the anti-terrorism stuff," Bessee said. "It might be good sometimes to get in someone who still needs to get their feet wet, but right now we need the tried and true."

Chris Sheppard of Tempe, an Arizona State University graduate student and former Marine who identified himself as an independent, said he voted for Pederson because "I do not think that Jon Kyl has held the administration accountable for the war."

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