Applause broke out during a meeting of Tempe Democrats Tuesday as the group paused to hear that Ron Barber was ahead in the Tucson area congressional district special election to replace former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who resigned earlier this year to recover from a 2011 shooting.
Barber, who had been an aid to Giffords and was also wounded in the shooting, won 52 percent of the vote over Republican Jesse Kelly’s 45 percent. Kelly lost to Giffords in 2010 by about three points.
“We’re realizing we actually have a chance,” Kuby said of Democrats claiming more seats in the 2012 general election.
Alumna John Fetherston, congressional campaign field director for State Sen. David Schapira, D-Tempe, said a win in the Tucson special election gives Democrats an advantage going into the November general election.
“It starts the momentum early,” Fetherston said.
Tempe College Republicans President Kristin Middleton, a political science senior, said Republicans had nothing to lose in an election that was basically a repeat of the 2010 match-up.
“It was a very special election with the tragedy that happened, and it was going to be a tough one for Jesse anyway,” Middleton said. “Hopefully we can move on in November and get this seat.”
November will be the first presidential election conducted under the state’s new legislative and congressional district maps that were approved in January.
ASU, Tempe and parts of Mesa sit in the middle of both LD26 and Congressional District 9, which has three Democrats running against each other in the August 28 primary and seven Republicans.
Tempe was formerly in Legislative District 17 and Congressional District 5. In the 2010 election, CD5 elected Rep. David Schweikart over incumbent Democrat Harry Mitchell.
Fetherston, a May 2012 public policy and public service graduate, said this year was the best chance to elect a Democrat in Tempe’s new congressional district.
“This isn’t the old CD5,” Fetherston said.
Randy Keating, LD26 Democrats district chair, said the tea party wave in 2010 made Giffords’ reelection a tough one, but that this year would be different.
“I’m not celebrating yet,” he said. “It’s great that (Barber) won, but our eyes are on the prize in November.”
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