The rematch between a career Air Force pilot and career bureaucrat in Arizona is shaping up to be a key opportunity for a GOP pick-up in the House of Representatives.
Republican challenger, retired Air Force Colonel Martha McSally, is poised to unseat Democratic Representative Ron Barber in the all-important Arizona Congressional District Two race, a seat formerly held by Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.
McSally is the first female fighter pilot to fly in combat, and the first to command a fighter squadron in combat in United States History. She’s tough — in 2001 – 2002, she sued Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in an effort to overturn a military policy requiring all U.S. servicewomen to wear a Muslim Abaya and headscarf when off base in Saudi Arabia.
She’s running with a focus the economy, government overreach, national security and leadership.
Congressman Barber worked for 30 years with the Arizona Division of Developmental Disabilities. In 2006 he began working for Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and was later named her district director.
In January of 2012, Giffords resigned from office after being seriously wounded in a shooting that claimed the lives of six people and wounded 13 others. Barber ran to fill Giffords seat, facing off against McSally in November of 2012.
Barber edged out McSally by less than 1% in a race that received little national attention. Given the current state of politics, conservatives see this as a race to invest time and money in this year.
Arizona is a Red state. Mitt Romney won it in 2014 by 9%, John McCain won it in 2008 by 8.5%, and George Bush won it by 10.5% in 2004. The Second Congressional district is not quite as red, with Romney narrowly winning the district in 2012.
That being said, the numbers are trending positive for McSally. Real Clear Politics showed the district as “Leaning Dem” in 2012 and now shows it a “Toss Up” in 2014.
I know the Senate is still the big prize for this year’s midterms but this is a race near and dear to my heart, as I am originally from southern Arizona. That part of the state has been drifting leftward for quite some time but this district isn’t really populated with progressives. Gabby Giffords used to be a Republican and was a relatively moderate Democrat. Barber rode a lot of sentiment into office but isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed. He’s just a tool. This would be a wonderful GOP pick-up. Arizona’s House delegation is all it has as far as real conservative representation goes these days. John McCain is, well, John McCain and Jeff Flake has inexplicably been nothing but a “Mini Maverick” since succeeding Jon Kyl.