On Tuesday, voters in Arizona’s Eighth Congressional District will place either Democrat Ron Barber or Republican Jesse Kelly in the seat vacated by Gabrielle Giffords last year, which has been dubbed “Gabby’s Seat.” The unusual task of replacing a representative who survived an assassination attempt has challenged both Barber, the former aide Giffords joined on the campaign trail this past weekend, and Kelly, a 40-year-old Iraq War veteran whom Giffords narrowly bested for the seat in 2010.
“I said to myself, ‘I’m not going to in any way take advantage or exploit the shooting,’” said Barber, who was wounded in the leg and cheek during the January 2011 shooting. “I’ve not talked about it in the campaign at all and I don’t intend to because I believe that people are going to elect someone based on their qualifications for the job and not a sympathy vote. I don’t want that.”
Meanwhile, Republicans have been leery of attacking Barber, choosing instead to castigate President Obama’s national policies and take down 66-year-old Barber by extension. According to the Washington Times, the latest television ad from the National Republican Congressional Committee said, “Rubber-stamp Ron Barber. More failed Obama policies that hurt Arizona.”
Giffords’s husband Mark Kelly said his wife may run for office again in the future, but “It’s certainly not going to be this term.” As for the race to fill her seat for the final six months of the term, “This is a little about closure … on Gabby’s career in Congress. It wasn’t when she resigned in January,” he said.