Entries in Jesse Kelly (4)


What to Draw from Gabby Giffords Special Election

Mike Coppola/Getty Images(TUCSON, Ariz.) -- Voters in southeastern Arizona are at the polls Tuesday in a special election to fill the seat vacated by Gabby Giffords' retirement.

The Democratic nominee, Ron Barber, has a very personal connection to Giffords. Not only is he Giffords’ former district director, but he was also shot in the leg and cheek in the assassination attempt on Giffords in January 2011.

Tea Party supporter and former Marine Jesse Kelly is the Republican nominee. Kelly narrowly lost his 2010 race against Giffords by 4,000 votes.

While a new poll out Monday showed Barber ahead of Kelly by 12 points, insiders on both sides say their polling shows the race much tighter. Many of those closest to the contest give Barber a narrow advantage.

A win by Barber would be more than just a victory for the extended “Giffords family,” it would be a psychological boost for a White House that has endured a rough couple of weeks. After all, this is not a slam-dunk Democratic district. McCain won this district in 2008, Bush carried it in 2004, and Republicans have a significant registration advantage here as well.

A Kelly win would provide another example of a Republican advantage over Democrats -- i.e., Wisconsin recall. Furthermore, it would undercut one of the Democrats’ main arguments for the fall campaign: that GOP support of Social Security and Medicare reform (like the Ryan budget) is politically toxic. Outside groups supporting Barber have pummeled Kelly with his own words on these entitlement programs. As the Arizona Daily Star reported: “Barber and Democrats remind voters daily that two years ago Kelly said he wanted to privatize and phase out Social Security and eliminate Medicare. They slam his pledge this go-round to protect the programs as a disingenuous trick.”

And, groups supporting Barber have not been shy about personally attacking Kelly either. An ad released by the pro-Democratic House Majority PAC showing Jesse Kelly referring to Giffords as “a hero of nothing” during their 2010 campaign was criticized for a lack of context.

For their part, Republicans have tried to link Barber to Obamacare and Nancy Pelosi -- two very unpopular topics in this part of the state. Even so, Barber’s lack of incumbency -- and the fact that he has literally distanced himself from both the president and Pelosi -- have helped insulate him against the attacks.

At the end of the day, Barber’s personal story, and the unrelenting negative attacks on Kelly by Democratic outside groups, will be the real story out of this special election.

Moreover, regardless of what happens, the new congressman will have to run again in the general election in November, this time in a new district that has a much more significant Democratic lean to it. As such, we should expect this district to be in Democratic hands one way or another come next January.

Polls close at 10 p.m. EST. Given the large percentage of the vote that has been cast absentee (the expectation is somewhere in the 55-60 percent range), there is some hope that a winner can be declared rather quickly.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Arizona Holds Special Election to Fill Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' Seat

Alex Wong/Getty Images(PHOENIX) -- Arizonans in the state’s 8th Congressional District will cast their votes Tuesday in a special election to fill the seat vacated by former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ retirement.  The race between former Giffords district director Ron Barber and retired Marine Jesse Kelly is expected to be close, and the outcome is anyone’s guess.

The district is located in the southeastern portion of the state and encompasses parts of Tucson.

Barber, 66, has had the endorsement of his former boss from the beginning of the race.  He ultimately ran uncontested in the primary, and  has had relatively strong fundraising, taking in about $1.2 million, according to his Federal Election Commission filings.  Barber was also injured in the assassination attempt on Giffords in January 2011 and has recovered from being shot in the leg and cheek.

Kelly, 30, faced a contested primary against three opponents.  His fundraising has lagged behind Barber’s, raising about $700,000, according to FEC filings.  But the political demographics of the district give the advantage to Kelly.  The district leans Republican, going red in the presidential elections in 2008 and 2004 and boasting a higher number of registered Republicans than Democrats going into the special election.

Republicans, Democrats and respectively aligned super PAC’s have invested in the race.  The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which oversees Democratic House races, has spent a little more than $425,000 on ad buys, while their Republican counterpart, the National Republican Congressional Committee, has spent a little more than $840,000 on media, according to their respective financial disclosures.

The Democratically aligned super PAC House Majority PAC, and the Republican aligned American Crossroads have both waded into the race, as has the Tea Party-affiliated FreedomWorks, and the establishment GOP group American Action Network.

Giffords campaigned for Barber this weekend leading up to the election, appearing alongside him at a get-out-the-vote event Saturday in Tucson.

Polling indicates the race will likely be close.  Many votes, more than 132,000, have already been cast through early voting, which began on May 17.  The district boasts 414,494 registered voters, meaning that more than one-quarter have voted.  State officials expect that early voting could account for almost two-thirds of the total votes.

Whichever candidate emerges victorious from Tuesday’s election will have little time to get acclimated to his new job.  The congressman will have to run again in the general election in November, this time in a new district -- Congressional District 2 -- which is viewed as more favorable to Democrats.  

Before November rolls around though, the then-congressman must face an August primary.  Both men have already filed for the August 28 contest, according to the Arizona Secretary of State’s office.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Gabby Giffords Pushes for Barber Campaign in Arizona

Alex Wong/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords spent the weekend campaigning for her ex-aide, Ron Barber, as he attempts to inherit the vacant seat left by his old boss in the House of Representatives.

On Tuesday voters in Arizona’s 8th District will decide the outcome of the special election between Democrat Barber and Republican Jesse Kelly.

Giffords appeared with Barber today for a final push before the polls open. ABC affiliate KGUN in Tucson reports Giffords and husband Mark Kelly took the stage at a concert rally for Barber to a crowd of roughly 800 people.

Giffords has not had an active role in the campaign as she recovers from the January 2011 shooting at a “Congress on Your Corner” event at a Tucson supermarket. Six died that day after a gunman shot Giffords in the head before turning on the crowd. Barber was also wounded in the assassination attempt, being shot in the leg and cheek.

The three-term representative has had a difficult time speaking at length since the incident, and today her husband spoke on her behalf. Holding hands as they walked on stage, the former astronaut told supporters his wife’s choice to resign and focus on her rehabilitation had been a “very difficult decision.”

“You know she worked incredibly hard to first be elected to Congress and then to serve,” he said. “It was her lifelong dream, but she knew that at that point it made sense for her to step down.”

Kelly later said the special-election was about more than selecting the Grand Canyon State’s next representative.

“This is a little about closure,” he said. “This closure on Gabby’s career in Congress, it wasn’t when she resigned in January. I really, truly believe that it is this coming Tuesday.”

Giffords herself spoke briefly at the close of the concert, only offering words of gratitude.

“Thank you for your support. Thank you very much,” she said.

The race between Barber and Jesse Kelly is considered hotly contested. The 8th District leans Republican by a margin of roughly 25,000 voters, making independents key for a Democratic victory. Giffords survived her own reelection battles through her history as a moderate Democrat. As an incumbent, Giffords faced off against Jesse Kelly in 2010 and succeeded with a margin of 2 percentage points.

Barber and Kelly’s campaigns have remained largely civil, with most negative ads coming from outside groups. Republicans have sought to make their push a referendum of President Obama’s national policies, rather than to personally target Barber or Giffords’ local issues.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


AZ Special Election: Former Marine Wins GOP Primary for Giffords' House Seat

Alex Wong/Getty Images(TUCSON, Ariz.) -- Former marine Jesse Kelly has won the Republican primary in the special election to fill the Arizona House seat once held by Gabby Giffords.

Kelly will face Ron Barber, a former district director for Giffords, in a general election to be held on June 12.

Kelly, an Iraq war veteran, was also the Republican nominee in 2010, when he faced off against Giffords and lost by a margin of less than 2 percent.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio