The Contenders: Barber (D) vs. Kelly (R) - Image AZ Daily StarWith each special election around the nation being touted as a “referendum on the Obama Administration”, one must watch each race with caution and a huge grain of salt - Arizona’s 8th Congressional District goes to the polls today to choose a replacement for the popular Representative Gabby Gifford’s who has stepped down after the tragic shooting that rocked the nation. Gifford’s, however, is not the issue, the issue is who will best serve the interests of the District, and the special interests are out in force. The candidates are former Gifford staffer, Ron Barber, who has Gifford’s out stumping for him in the Tucson district. The opponent, Jesse Kelly, a Republican, Marine and Iraq War veteran, ran a very close race with Gifford’s in 2010, and the money has poured into the District by both Democrats and Republican’s – very much like the race to recall Governor Walker in Wisconsin.The recall vote in Wisconsin, which was polling as a close, race (Public Policy Polling had the race in a statistical tie on 3 separate occasions- Real Clear Politics), ended up being a route – with Walker sending the first message of revolt against Public Employee Unions and the Obama Administration of the 2012 session. The race in the 8th has one poll shown, by Public Policy Polling, giving a 12 point lead to the Democrat, Barber. The New York Times had the 2010 race painted as “toss up”, with a projection of a 2.5 swing between Kelly and Gifford’s – and the results were in sync. This election, according to the New York Times, will also be a too close to call noting that Democrat Barber, is relying heavily on Gifford’s brand to get out the vote, while Kelly is doing retail politics – it’s a ground game versus carefully chosen venues – and a ton of advertising from special interest groups. What happens – at this point, the race could go either way – and a race that is not the blowout that was Wisconsin, but under a 5 point margin, will bode neither well nor good for the Obama administration. Of note: there is a voter I.D. law in Arizona, and the district had been mainly Republican before Gifford’s a “Blue Dog Democrat” took the seat in 2008 (the year of the Republican Drubbing), and managed to barely hold it in 2010 (the year of the Democrat Drubbing).To get an inside feel for the race, one can follow the “chat” set up by the Tucson Daily Star: http://live.azstarnet.com/Event/CD_8_special_election-live-chat”. As with any mainstream media outlet (Televised, Print, Radio, Web) the political division in the nation and the ability for individuals to choose their “poison” (media), however, with this area, and the low population of the district, one might be given a rare glimpse into what is actually taking place as the chat rolls in. In any event, Gifford’s will be a tough act to follow – voting for the District, and holding onto her seat by doing so. That requires bucking party trends, at times – similar to the Senator from Massachusetts, Scott Brown who won the special election in January of 2009, based on his independent streak – and he has indeed, kept his promise to vote in the interests of Massachusetts, not the Party. It is the same here, in Arizona, however, in this instance, one has an avowed Democrat in Barber, who, in what could be seen as desperation (or plain stupidity) promised to vote for Obama in November, versus a Tea Party backed candidate (and where is there a huge percentage of tea party activists? – the western United States)All in all it is an interesting race, but as touted as the outcome may be, it really is not a national referendum unless, of course, (media) Barber wins, and then one will hear how Obama is on the upswing. Should the vote go to Kelly, there will be crickets, an article or two perhaps in local papers, and Conservative News outlets. It is, as of now, a choice between to political opponents representing two diverse political ideologies, freedom from government, versus government oversight of the individual. The later, more than anything else makes each of these very partisan races, important. When the Special Interest Groups are pumping money into small Congressional races, this early, get ready for a fight in November over each small District, Senate, and of course, the main prize, The Presidency. *Based on available polling data and political analysis from the New York Times, articles and comments from the Tucson Daily Star – this race is, as of now, too close to call. It will be over, however, shortly after the polls close, at 7 PM MST.
read more: AZ 8th Congressional District – Special Election Today – Referendum on The Economy (Obama) or Just Local Politics? - Analysis