Arizona: Democrats Looking Ahead to Fall Campaign for Gabrielle Giffords’ Seat

Posted March 1, 2012 at 1:11pm

Arizona state Rep. Steve Farley announced today he is running this fall in the 2nd district, the Tucson-area seat that closely resembles the district formerly held by Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D).

The Democrat’s candidacy is significant because he has close ties to Giffords, who resigned in January. He told Roll Call he discussed his candidacy with Giffords’ husband, Mark Kelly, but did not reveal the details of the conversation.

His campaign manager will be former Giffords intern Daniel Hernandez, who managed Farley’s 2010 state House race and is credited with helping to save Giffords’ life after the 2011 shooting rampage. Farley’s consultant will be Mo Elleithee of Hilltop Strategies.

State Rep. Matt Heinz and state Sen. Paula Aboud are already running in the Democratic primary, slated for Aug. 28. Former Giffords aide Ron Barber is running in the 8th special election to finish the Congresswoman’s current term. He has not indicated whether he will seek a full term if he wins the June 12 special, but there are few signs that he will run again this fall.

Farley emphasized that he is currently working on the Barber campaign.

On the other side of the race, Republicans are sorting out a strategy for how to take on Barber, a man whose story elicits a great deal of emotion. He was shot twice in the rampage and has the backing of Giffords, her husband and her advisers.

The National Republican Congressional Committee jumped on the news that Democratic House leaders, including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and Arizona Rep. Raúl Grijalva, are hosting a fundraiser for Barber.

“Barber didn’t waste any time claiming the support of Pelosi and Grijalva, two politicians who have done nothing but destroy Arizona’s economy,” NRCC spokesman Daniel Scarpinato said in a statement.

Republicans broke records in negative advertising featuring Pelosi in 2010, and it worked for them.

But locally, even Democrats will admit that Grijalva’s call for boycott on his home state was toxic for his fellow Arizona Democrats in the 2010 midterms, two of whom lost their re-election bids.

Roll Call Politics rate the special election as Tossup.