Democrat Ron Barber, an aide to former US Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, won a special election Tuesday to serve out the remainder of her term as she continues her recovery from a gunshot wound to the head.
Barber almost died in the Tucson, Ariz., shooting rampage in January 2011 that wounded Giffords and left six others dead.
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He defeated Republican Jesse Kelly, who narrowly lost to Giffords in 2010 in a competitive district that Republicans have won in the last two presidential elections, The Associated Press reported.
Appearing with Giffords at a Tucson hotel after his victory, Barber told supporters, “Life takes unexpected turns and here we are, thanks to you.” Giffords hugged him and kissed his forehead, according to the AP.
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The election to fill the six remaining months of Giffords’ term was seen as a test of political trends for the presidential contest between President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney this fall, Bloomberg reported.
Barber's victory gives Democrats something to cling to as they try to keep Obama in office and take back the House, although Republicans pointed out that Barber did his best to distance himself from Obama.
“It is clear that Ron Barber knew that voters in this district would never accept his true positions on President Obama’s agenda which have made a bad economy worse in this state,” Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, told the Christian Science Monitor. “That explains why he did his best to conceal his support for so much of that agenda.”
Both Barber and Kelly have said they plan to run in the general election for a full House term, Politico reported.