PHOENIX - Democrat Ron Barber won a special House election in southern Arizona on Tuesday night to finish the term of former representative Gabrielle Giffords.
Giffords resigned a year after she was shot in the head while meeting with constituents at a Tucson shopping center.
Barber defeated Republican Jesse Kelly, a former Marine and Iraq war veteran who narrowly lost a House race to Giffords in 2010.
The 66-year-old Barber was seriously injured in the same rampage in which Giffords was shot. Six others were killed.
The race was the last congressional special election before the general election, leaving both sides to mine the results for clues about what might work in November and who might have momentum on their side.
Giffords supported Barber and has been campaigning on his behalf, but she was rarely an issue in the battle for the conservative-leaning southeast Arizona district.
Instead, the race centered on Barber’s connections to the national Democratic Party and Kelly’s past statements about overhauling the nation’s entitlement programs, including Social Security and Medicare.
In their ads, Democrats ran footage and quotes of Kelly talking about getting rid of the entitlement programs.
Kelly attempted to distance himself from those past positions, airing an ad featuring his grandfather.
Given the large number of senior citizens in the district and Kelly’s past comments, though, the special election was almost a perfect test case for the Democrats’ strategy, which they used in previous special elections and plan to use in the fall. But the political circumstances are not likely to align so perfectly in most other districts.
Democrats point out that basically every GOP incumbent has voted for a Republican budget that would overhaul Medicare and that they can use the issue against any number of Republicans, particularly incumbents, nationwide.
On the GOP side, the messaging was all about linking Barber to his national party, including President Obama and House minority leader Nancy Pelosi, along with Obama’s health care law.
Elsewhere across the country, Maine’s secretary of state, Charlie Summers, beat five other Republicans to win the GOP primary for the seat being vacated by Senator Olympia J. Snowe. He will face state Senator Cynthia Dill, a Democrat who bested three other candidates Tuesday in that party’s primary.
Unofficial results show Summers and Dill will vie with Angus King, a former two-term governor running as an independent in the November election. Several other candidates are also running as independents. - GLOBE WIRE SERVICES
Obama gears up on fund-raising whirlwind
BALTIMORE - President Obama warned supporters Tuesday that Republicans have boiled down their campaign against him to a single phrase that can fit into a 140-character Twitter message and unfairly blames him for the nation’s ills.
“Because folks are still hurting right now, the other side feels that it’s enough for them to just sit back and say, ‘Things aren’t as good as they should be and it’s Obama’s fault,’ ’’ Obama said during a campaign fund-raising appearance at a private home in Owings Mills, Md.
“You can pretty much put their campaign on a tweet and have some characters to spare,’’ he said.
Obama’s quip neatly summed up his campaign’s concern that Republicans have begun to make headway in their attempt to pin the sluggish economy on his administration, and the urgency with which Team Obama is hoping to turn the corner on nearly two weeks of dismal economic and campaign news.
But the president’s GOP rivals quickly fought back, taking to, where else, Twitter, to mock Obama’s remarks, employing the hashtag #characterstospare.
“Unemployment at 8.2% for a record 40 straight months. #characterstospare,’’ the Republican National Committee wrote, even though the national unemployment rate had dipped to 8.1 percent in April before rising to 8.2 percent last month.
“Where are the jobs? - How many #CharacterstoSpare do I have?’’ tweeted Brendan Buck, spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio.
The combative mood underscored the high stakes as Obama set out on a whirlwind fund-raising tour Tuesday, as he sought to remain financially competitive with Republican presidential rival Mitt Romney.
Obama’s six fund-raisers in Baltimore and Philadelphia were expected to net the campaign at least $3.6 million and take his total number of such events for the 2012 cycle to over 160, according to Mark Knoller of CBS News, who keeps a variety of presidential statistics.
The pace reflects a long-held concern among Obama advisers that Romney, along with a number of independent GOP super PACs, could outraise Democrats. That concern turned into outright worry last week when Romney released fund-raising numbers for May showing that he and other GOP groups had outraised Obama and Democrats for the first time in the cycle. - WASHINGTON POST