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Arizona Races Tighten in Campaigning's Last Days

by Terri Harel, published

This election has featured some extremely tight races, even in states that traditionally lean one way or another. This unpredictability has led to rampant campaign spending by both the Republicans and the Democrats, and races in Arizona are no exception.

Ron Barber, former aid to Representative Gabrielle Giffords (D), who was injured in a shooting last year, is running for reelection in Arizona’s 2nd Congressional District. Barber, also injured in the attack, won the seat in a special election following Giffords’ June resignation.

With only a few days left until Election Day, the race is still too close to call. On Friday morning, the Washington Post reported that it is downgrading Barber into a “more vulnerable” status. A recent Real Clear Politics rating pins Arizona as “likely-Dem,” but The Tuscon Citizen is saying the 2nd Congressional District will almost certainly go to Barber’s challenger, Republican Martha McSally. The newspaper cites her ample support from independents in the district.

Barber and McSally debated publicly on October 23, and both candidates dealt harsh and personal stabs at one another. The main topic of discussion was health care.  Both advocated the need for change within the Affordable Care Act - although McSally wants to restore the $716 billion “robbed” from Medicare.

According to an Arizona newspaper’s November 2nd report of the race’s standing, both Democrats and Republicans are extremely confident.

A Democratic political strategist noted, “By any objective standards [McSally is] a strong candidate. ... But even before Ron [Barber] worked for Gabby [Giffords], he was well-known throughout southern Arizona. He's built a reputation as honest and fair- dealing."

A representative of the National Republican Congressional Committee retorted, “[It] is now a very close battle. I really attribute that to Martha McSally.”

Starting Tuesday, Giffords’ husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, began an e-mailing campaign supporting the Democratic ticket for Congress, which also includes Richard Carmona for US Senate.

The Senate race is also much closer than originally expected, as Carmona reaches out to Hispanic and independents in a final push to secure Arizona for the Democrats. Carmona has distanced himself from Barak Obama in hopes of gaining support from last minute undecided voters who may be more sympathetic to the Republican cause.

Both Mitt Romney and John McCain have made appeals to voters to cast their ballots for Carmona's Republican challenger, Jeff Flake.


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