Democrats: Barber’s Win in Arizona Puts GOP ‘on Notice’

BY Christina Bellantoni and Terence Burlij  June 13, 2012 at 8:51 AM EST

Ron Barber; photo by Tom Williams/CQ Roll Cal

Ron Barber, left, talks with Trident Grill owner Nelson Miller while campaigning in Tucson last month. Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call.

The Morning Line

Democrats have a new hero in Congressman-elect Ron Barber.

The onetime aide to former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords won Tuesday’s special contest to serve out the remainder of her term and gives the insurgent party new hope to reclaim control of the House this fall. Barber bested Jesse Kelly, Giffords’ 2010 opponent, 52 percent to 46 percent.

Arizona’s 8th Congressional District was a tossup long before the massacre in Tucson that killed six and severely wounded the congresswoman in January 2011. Barber was among the 13 others who were also wounded in the attack.

Giffords won her seat in the 2006 wave that swept Democrats to power, in a district where Republicans have a seven-point voter registration advantage.

Joined by Giffords at a victory rally in Tucson on Tuesday, Barber said, “Life takes unexpected turns and here we are, thanks to you.”

But he shouldn’t get used to the boundaries for this district. Thanks to redistricting, he’ll be running for re-election in redrawn territory that is friendlier to Democrats come November.

Operatives from both parties said before the race they weren’t sure how it was going to shake out, and Democrats were noting that 84 Republican-held districts are more Democratic than this one. That stat was in Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel’s statement congratulating Barber.

“Arizona’s 8th Congressional District has more registered Republicans than Democrats, this race has been rated a toss-up throughout the election, and Republican outside groups outspent Democratic outside groups by more than $500,000,” Israel said. He added that those 84 Republicans should be “on notice” about the Democrats’ message.

The DCCC’s Jen Crider put a finer point on it in a memo to reporters: “Every incumbent Republican shares Jesse Kelly’s vulnerabilities on Medicare, Social Security and tax breaks for millionaires, and 84 of them are in districts more Democratic than AZ-08. We can (and did) win a Republican-leaning district like AZ-08, but the battleground in November is in much more Democratic-friendly territory.”

Crider also argued the Democrats “now stand well positioned to pick-up two additional seats in Arizona.” They see opportunity in the open 1st District and in the new 9th District created by population gains.

But Republicans say the Democrats are dreaming, and the fight is really just getting started.

As Roll Call’s Shira Toeplitz reported Wednesday, the National Republican Congressional Committee has saved more than $18 million in television air time to spread out in 27 districts — playing both offense and defense.

The NewsHour will soon have more on how the overall House landscape is shaping up for the fall.

ELSEWHERE ON TUESDAY

Voters in North Dakota overwhelmingly supported a proposal to get rid of the state university’s “Fighting Sioux” nickname and Indian head logo under threat of sanctions by the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

North Dakota voters also resoundingly rejected a ballot measure that would have abolished property taxes in the state.

The Peace Garden State and three others — Maine, Nevada and Virginia — also held Senate primaries that set up key races to watch this fall, reports Rosalind Helderman of the Washington Post.

HOLDER UNDER FIRE

Attorney General Eric Holder faced heated questioning and a call for his resignation from the Senate Judiciary Committee and, particularly, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, on Tuesday.

At issue are two controversies: a botched federal drug investigation in which 2,000 guns disappeared into Mexico and the special prosecutors Holder has tasked to investigate a series of recent leaks to the media about the Obama administration’s war strategies.

Judy Woodruff spoke with Carrie Johnson of NPR and Daniel Klaidman of Newsweek/Daily Beast about the hearing and its historical context. Klaidman recently published a book with Holder as a central character, titled “Kill or Capture: The War on Terror and the Soul of the Obama Presidency”.

“If there is one central thread, this attorney general…is associated with some of the more progressive policies of the Obama administration,” Klaidman said. He cited Holder’s handling of the trial of 9/11 plotters in New York and the closure of Guantanamo Bay as hot political issues.

Johnson noted that the White House stands behind Holder and that he’s a close member of the president’s inner circle, adding that the Justice Department says Holder isn’t going anywhere.

Watch the segment here or below.

2012 LINE ITEMS

  • A Reuters poll released Tuesday put the president at 45 percent support compared to 44 percent for Romney. That was off from a seven-point advantage for Mr. Obama a month ago. Among the survey’s findings: The president’s approval among independents dipped from 48 percent to 35 percent.

  • “Three new polls underscore why Team Obama has reason to be concerned about their standing in the Rust Belt,” writes National Journal’s Josh Kraushaar under a subheadline Team Romney will like, “Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin are looking increasingly within reach.”

  • Politico’s Alexander Burns reported that the Obama campaign “has pumped nearly $14 million into a new, multi-week wave of television ads,” with Ohio getting the most spending so far, followed by Florida and North Carolina.

  • The president’s international approval rating has declined significantly, but “overall confidence in him and attitudes toward the U.S. have slipped only modestly as a consequence,” according to a new survey of 21 countries by the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project.

  • Romney’s top digital guy talked about the campaign’s strategy at Personal Democracy Forum in New York. Here’s a summary of the speech.

  • The Boston Globe reports that the two presidential campaigns “have paid a combined $45 million to businesses and consultants from Massachusetts, making the Bay State the nation’s number one destination for presidential campaign spending by a long shot.”

  • Politico’s Abby Phillip and Ken Vogel write that Romney is outraising the president among financial-sector donors, $37.1 million to $4.8 million.

  • ABC News’ Shushannah Walshe and Devin Dwyer fact check Romney’s statement that the president acknowledged he doesn’t “understand that Obamacare was hurting small businesses.”

  • “I mean, you can pretty much put their campaign on a tweet and have some characters to spare,” the president said at a fundraiser near Baltimore on Tuesday.

  • A survey of North Carolina voters released Tuesday by the left-leaning Public Policy Polling found Romney leading the president, 48 percent to 46 percent, in the Tarheel State. That’s a change from April when Mr. Obama led, 49 percent to 44 percent. Part of the reason for Romney’s gains: going from a 13-point deficit among independents (51-38) to a narrow single-point advantage (42-41).

  • Yahoo! News’ Olivier Knox offers this suggestion for a Father’s Day gift: a Mitt Romney figurine.

  • [Yes, you read that correctly](http://mtvpress.com/activism/release/mtv_adds_pbs_newshour_and_cq_roll_call_to_world_class_coalition_gamifying_t ). The NewsHour is teaming up with MTV for a new election game.

  • Christina talks with Gwen and Judy about gaffes that last in this week’s Political Checklist.

  • Michelle Obama is now on Pinterest.

  • BuzzFeed posts baby pictures of the president. Seriously.

TOP TWEETS

OUTSIDE THE LINES

  • What did you make of Michael Lewis telling Princeton graduates that he owes his success to luck and that they all owe a debt to the unlucky? The NewsHour wants to know — weigh in here.

  • Crossroads GPS announced a $2 million ad buy in three states with competitive Senate races this fall — Missouri, North Dakota and Virginia — “urging action to fight wasteful spending, government debt and Obamacare.” Click here to watch the Missouri ad targeting Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill.

  • Roll Call’s Joshua Miller follows Rep. Charlie Rangel to Harlem to outline in detail the longtime Democrat’s many challenges for re-election.

  • The Hill’s Josh Lederman writes that Rangel is counting on his relationship with the president to carry him to victory this fall, despite the president’s earlier statement that Rangel should “step down with dignity” after an ethical investigation resulted in the congressman’s censure.

  • Politico writes that House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, is advising his members to adjust their health care messaging and stop calling the president’s law “job-killing.”

  • Wisconsin GOP Gov. Scott Walker’s brats and beer summit with state lawmakers Tuesday drew criticism from the leader of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union.

  • Jennifer Liberto of CNN Money reports the head of the U.S. Postal Service warned that without cost-cutting measures and action by Congress the organization could be headed for the same fiscal fate as Greece.

  • Roll Call’s Emma Dumain looks at the fight in Congress over funding for the Capitol dome restoration project.

  • The Senate confirmed by voice vote the president’s appointee for the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, breaking a GOP filibuster, reports the Los Angeles Times’ Lisa Mascaro.

  • Senate Democrats blocked a resolution from Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., that proposed installing a special prosecutor to investigate the leaking of national security information.

  • ProPublica on how Microsoft and Yahoo are helping politicians and making money.

  • Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., introduced an amendment to the farm bill that would repeal the Dodd-Frank financial reform law.

  • A new PPP poll released Tuesday showed Republican Sen. Dean Heller and Democratic Rep. Shelley Berkley essentially tied in the Nevada Senate race. They each officially secured their party nominations Tuesday. Heller took 44 percent in the survey, while 43 percent said they would support Berkley. Another 13 percent said they were undecided.

  • Supporters of Sen. Jon Tester who donate at least $10 to the Montana Democrat’s re-election campaign could win two tickets to see Pearl Jam perform in Missoula on Sept. 30. The winner will get to watch the show from recliners on stage and have dinner with Tester and band member Jeff Ament.

  • J.P. Morgan’s CEO Jamie Dimon will testify before the Senate Banking Committee on Wednesday regarding the bank’s “embarrassing” $2 billion trading loss. His prepared remarks can be seen here.

Katelyn Polantz and Alex Bruns contributed to this report.

ON THE TRAIL

All events are listed in Eastern Time.

  • President Obama speaks at a campaign event in Washington, D.C., at 4:40 p.m., awards the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Israeli President Shimon Peres at the White House at 7:10 p.m. and hosts a reception for Peres at 8:30 p.m.

  • Vice President Joe Biden chairs a meeting of senior officials on the progress in Iraq at 1:30 p.m., hosts a reception for the Motion Picture Association of America at the Naval Observatory at 5 p.m. and later attends the White House ceremony in honor of Peres.

  • Mitt Romney speaks at a Business Roundtable event at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., at 11:45 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.