Both the GOP and the Democrats used the race to hone and test their political arguments for the November elections, when everything from the White House on down will be on the ballot.
Republicans, sensing a chance to capture the former congresswoman’s seat, sought to make the contest a referendum on President Barack Obama and his handling of the economy. They argued that Democrat Ron Barber, a former Giffords aide asked by the lawmaker to pursue the seat, would fall in line behind the White House.
Democrats, in turn, played to the senior vote by contending that Republican Jesse Kelly would not protect Medicare and Social Security.
Both candidates promised to run again in the fall.
“Democrat Ron Barber has won a full term representing Arizona's 2nd Congressional District, squeaking out a win over Republican Martha McSally and giving Democrats a sweep of the state's three competitive races for U.S. House seats.”
—Voters in Arizona’s 2nd pick Barber over McSally - seattlepi.com
Democrat Ron Barber has won a full term representing Arizona’s 2nd Congressional District, squeaking out a win over Republican Martha McSally and giving Democrats a sweep of the state’s three competitive races for U.S. House seats. Voters decisively picked Barber to fill out the remainder of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords term in a special election in June, but the Nov. 6 election was for a full term and was so tight it took until Saturday before a winner was clear. Barber and McSally each held leads since election night, with a difference of only a few dozen votes at times, before Barber steadily began pulling ahead. By late Friday, Barber had a 1,402-vote margin with more than 285,000 votes cast in the race.
Democratic U.S. Representative Ron Barber, a former aide to Gabrielle Giffords who was wounded alongside her in a deadly 2011 shooting, has won a full term in Congress after defeating Republican Martha McSally in a closely contested race.
A newly sworn-in congressman who was injured in a mass shooting last year along with then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords held his first “Congress on Your Corner” event with southern Arizona constituents on Saturday.
Giffords conducted 21 of the informal meet-and-greet events during her more than four years in office, including one on the day of the shooting - Jan. 8, 2011. The rampage left six dead and 13 wounded, including Giffords and her then-district director, Ron Barber.
Giffords relinquished the seat in January to concentrate on her recovery from a gunshot wound to the head. Barber, a Democrat, won a special election to replace her earlier this month. He was sworn in Tuesday in Washington, D.C.
About 300 people showed up at Saturday’s event outside a Tucson grocery store as temperatures topped 100 degrees, Barber spokesman Mark Kimble said. Visitors ranged from other survivors of the mass shooting and well-wishers to people who had concerns about their federal student loans or veteran’s benefits, he said.
The event had been scheduled to last an hour and a half.
“But there were so many people, we went three hours,” Kimble said.
“Some of those people used to be her supporters. But now Ron has his own team that's energized to make sure he gets across the finish line on Tuesday, and Gabby is very excited about that.”
—Gabrielle Giffords’ husband, Mark Kelly • Discussing her meeting with volunteers for her former district office director, Ron Barber, on Sunday. Barber faces a tough election battle to fill Giffords’ former seat tonight. Giffords’ opponent in 2010, former Marine Jesse Kelly, lost by a mere 4,000 votes, and he’s facing Barber. By pure numbers, the Republican may have an easier time reaching victory — there are 26,000 more Republicans registered in the district (in and around Tucson, Arizona), than Democrats. But Barber has the support of Giffords, and that might make all the difference.
PHOENIX — Democrat Ron Barber has won a special House election in southern Arizona to finish the term of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.
Giffords resigned a year after she was shot in the head while meeting with constituents at a Tucson shopping center.
Barber defeated Republican Jesse Kelly, a former Marine who narrowly lost a House race to Giffords in 2010.
The 66-year-old Barber was seriously injured in the same rampage in which Giffords was shot. Six others were killed.
Holding onto the seat has been a priority for Democrats as they seek to regain control of the House in November.
Republicans tried to make the race a referendum on President Barack Obama, a strategy they’ll continue to follow in other swing districts in this fall’s congressional elections.
Republicans, riding high after a decisive victory in Wisconsin’s gubernatorial election last Tuesday, set their sights on Arizona. A victory would give party leaders a chance to claim momentum five months before November and fine-tune their plan to link Democratic candidates to Obama, the incumbent at the top of the ticket.
Giffords, 42, resigned in January to concentrate on her recovery from a gunshot wound to her head. Giffords and Barber were injured in the January 2011 shooting rampage outside a Tucson grocery store that killed six people, including a 9-year-old girl and a federal judge. Giffords largely has shunned public appearances in the race, but in the closing days was stepping out to help Barber.
Outside groups have spent more than $2 million on the race.
Barber, 66, had a sizable fundraising lead in late May, but spending from conservative groups helped reduce the Democratic financial edge.
The Arizona 8th is a rare district that is competitive virtually every election. Giffords defeated Kelly by about 4,000 votes in 2010 when the election focused on immigration and when tea partyers rallied to the tough-talking former Marine. Now, the economy and jobs are voters’ top concerns.
Kelly, 30, spent the campaign arguing that Barber and Obama are out of touch with people in the district, where Republicans have a 26,000-person edge over Democrats in voter registration. He has called for lower taxes and more energy production as ways to improve the economy. And he has said he would roll back federal regulations and environmental protections in an effort to boost oil and gas drilling.