Apr 18, 2012 1 Comment ›› Pat Dollard
Excerpted from The Hill: Jesse Kelly won a special primary election in Arizona on Tuesday, securing the Republican nomination to replace former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.).
Kelly, an Iraq War veteran and project manager, edged out three other Republicans all vying to finish the term of Giffords, who stepped down in January – one year after an assassination attempt in her Tucson, Ariz. district left her critically wounded.
With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Kelly had 36 percent of the vote. Martha McSally came in second with 25 percent, followed by Frank Antenori with 22. Dave Sitton came in fourth place with 17 percent.
Democrat Ron Barber also won his party’s nomination to replace Giffords on Tuesday. The former district director for Giffords, Barber was shot twice in the January 2011 shooting spree that wounded Giffords and killed six people. Giffords personally asked Barber to run to replace her, and he ran unopposed in the primary.
Kelly’s success in the primary ensures that Barber will face fierce opposition in his bid to replace Giffords. Kelly ran against Giffords in 2010 and came within 2 points of defeating her. The district is competitive for both parties, and Republicans have indicated they plan to seriously contest the race.
A favorite of the Tea Party, Kelly has not previously held elected office.
Arizona Democratic Party Chairman Bill Roe blasted Kelly as the winner of a “Tea Party primary that banged the drums of extremism,” in a statement released late Tuesday.
“If Jesse Kelly could not ride the wave to Congress in the Republican flood of 2010, he is not viable in 2012,” said Roe. “Many moderate Republicans, Independents and Democrats in Southern Arizona will reject his extremism in favor of Ron Barber’s solid plan to rebuild the middle class.”