Arizona Voters Set for Special Election to Replace Giffords

BY Christina Bellantoni and Terence Burlij  June 12, 2012 at 10:45 AM EDT

Ron Barber; photo by Tom Williams/CQ Roll Cal

Ron Barber, center, the Democratic candidate in Arizona’s special election, campaigns in Tucson last month. Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call.

The Morning Line

Voters in Arizona’s 8th Congressional District will select a successor to former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in a special election Tuesday, five months after the Democratic congresswoman stepped down to focus on her recovery from injuries caused by a gunshot wound to the head during a campaign event outside a Tucson grocery store in January 2011.

The shooting rampage, which left six dead and 13 others wounded, gripped the nation and led to calls for a new era of bipartisanship.

Seventeen months later, Giffords’ former district director, Ron Barber, one of those injured in the attack, is facing off against Jesse Kelly, a construction project manager and Iraq War veteran. Kelly ran against Giffords in the 2010 midterm election and lost by two percentage points — less than 4,000 votes.

The left-leaning Public Policy Polling released a survey Monday that put Barber ahead of Kelly by 12 points, 53 percent to 41 percent, in a district that tilts Republican but includes a large number of independents. More than half of respondents — 57 percent — said they have already cast their ballots, and Barber holds a 58 percent to 37 percent advantage with that group.

Tuesday’s special election has garnered national attention. NPR’s Brian Naylor filed a report Monday looking at the issues that have shaped the Barber vs. Kelly contest.

The Washington Post’s Paul Kane lays out what’s at stake:

A win by Barber would offer reassurance to Democrats that they can triumph in swing districts, while a Kelly victory would be the latest blow to [President] Obama’s political standing in what has been a bad couple of weeks for him and could end the recent Democratic speculation that the president might be competitive in Arizona this fall.

The special election contest between Barber and Kelly to fill out the remaining six months of Giffords’ term is a dry run for the fall campaign. Both candidates have said they will seek the nomination of their respective parties later this summer in hopes of winning a full two-year term in November.

AIR OBAMA

President Obama’s campaign released a new television spot Tuesday, another ad focused on what Mitt Romney did as governor of Massachusetts.

It charges that the Republican left the state more than $18 billion in debt, making Massachusetts number one in per-person debt in the country.

The Romney campaign pushed back on the new ad in a statement from spokesperson Andrea Saul, who blasted the president for overseeing “trillion-dollar deficits, soaring national debt and the first credit downgrade in history.”

The Obama campaign described it as a “significant buy” in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

Watch the spot here or below.

ALL ABOARD

The Romney campaign announced Monday that the former governor will embark later this week on a six-state, five-day bus tour.

The “Every Town Counts” trip will launch from Scamman Farm in Stratham, N.H., the same spot where Romney kicked off his campaign for the presidency last June. From there he will travel to Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa and Michigan, and along the way he is expected to meet with families and business owners in small towns.

“For three-and-a-half years, President Obama has paid little attention to the everyday concerns of the American people,” Romney said in a statement announcing the tour. “President Obama has offered no hope for the future, and he has left American families to bear the burden of his failed policies.”

The six states Romney will visit all went for the president in 2008 — and they represent 74 electoral votes in 2012. States like Ohio, Iowa and New Hampshire are viewed as true battlegrounds, while Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin have gone Democratic in recent elections but could be in play this time around.

Even if Romney were to sweep the six states mentioned above, he would still have more work to do to get to 270 electoral votes, a sign that no matter how tough a week or month the president has had, the map for now tells a different story.

Click here to check out our Vote 2012 Map Center and predict the results in all 50 states.

2012 LINE ITEMS

TOP TWEETS

OUTSIDE THE LINES

  • The White House announced late Monday that Commerce Secretary John Bryson would take a medical leave to undergo tests and evaluations after being involved in two weekend car crashes that have been attributed to “health-related issues.”

  • Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chair of the House oversight committee, announced Monday that members of the panel will vote later this month on whether to recommend to the full chamber that Attorney General Eric Holder be held in contempt if he fails to turn over additional documents related to Operation Fast and Furious, reports Charlie Savage of the New York Times.

  • Montana Democrat Max Baucus, the chair of the Senate Finance Committee, said Monday that Congress should avoid “divisive” votes on taxes and spending prior to the November election.

  • The Washington Post’s Ed O’Keefe takes note of Maine independent Angus King’s effort to stake out “the lonely middle ground” in his bid for the U.S. Senate.

  • Republican Gov. Scott Walker will try to bridge the political divide in Wisconsin following last week’s recall vote by hosting state lawmakers from both parties at the governor’s mansion in Madison on Tuesday for brats, beer and Sprecher root beer with specialized labels.

  • The Atlantic’s Derek Thompson gives an interesting analysis of organized labor’s decline of power in light of the Wisconsin recall election results. Tune in especially to his blog post’s comments for readers’ insights.

  • Mother Jones magazine on the latest round of cases the Supreme Court has denied to hear. Monday’s regarded Guantanamo Bay.

  • The Boston Globe’s Glen Johnson reports that Victoria Reggie Kennedy, the widow of Sen. Edward Kennedy, has invited Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren to participate in a September debate to be moderated by Tom Brokaw. Warren accepted the invite Monday, while Brown has yet to commit.

  • A Federal Reserve study released Monday found that the wealth of U.S. families plummeted nearly 40 percent between the years 2007 and 2010, led by declining home values.

Katelyn Polantz contributed to this report.

ON THE TRAIL

All events are listed in Eastern Time.

  • President Obama attends fundraising receptions in Baltimore at 3:45 p.m. and Philadelphia at 7:50 p.m.

  • Vice President Joe Biden delivers the commencement address at Sidwell Friends School in Washington at 10:30 a.m.

  • Mitt Romney holds an event at Con-Air Industries in Orlando, Fla., at 9:50 a.m.

All future events can be found on our Political Calendar:


For more political coverage, visit our politics page.

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Questions or comments? Email Christina Bellantoni at cbellantoni-at-newshour-dot-org.

Follow the politics team on Twitter: @cbellantoni, @burlij, @elizsummers, @kpolantz, @indiefilmfan, @tiffanymullon and @dePeystah.