If it feels like it’s been just a week since Democrats were crying in their soup over their painful loss in Wisconsin, that’s because it was.
But this week, instead, they were able to start their Wednesday with a smile: Democrat Ron Barber held onto the House seat in Arizona which Rep. Gabrielle Giffords had occupied.
Giffords’ former congressional chief of staff, Barber won Tuesday’s special election to serve out the remainder of the term his old boss had been elected to in 2010. He will have to run for re-election again in November if he wants to try to keep the seat for a full term.
Giffords resigned her House seat in January to focus on the recovery she’s been undergoing since nearly being killed in an assassination attempt last year during a weekend meet-and-greet in a parking lot in her district. Barber also was wounded in the incident.
Although pundits cautioned against reading too much into Barber’s win from a national perspective heading into November, it nonetheless gives the left something to cheer about following their bitter loss last week in the Badger State in which Republican Gov. Scott Walker held onto his job despite a massive recall attempt mounted against him.
Barber defeated Jesse Kelly, who previously ran as the GOP candidate in 2010 against Giffords. Barber reportedly won by publiclizing statements Kelly had made against Social Security and Medicare. Arizona’s Eighth Congressional District is home to the 11th-oldest population in the nation.
Not only did Barber beat Kelly, he actually widened the margin of victory since 2010. Barber won 52 to 46 percent, an improvement from the 49 to 47 percent margin Giffords received two years ago.
Not only that, the Republican Party and allied interest groups outspent Barber in trying to claim this seat, although it wasn’t by anything close to the 7-to-1 margin by which conservatives outspent Democrats and unions in the Wisconsin recall race.
Barber may face Kelly once more in November, although the Republican may have to face off in an August GOP primary first.