CD 8 Special Primary Election

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Arizona Republic Congressional reporter Rebekah Sanders discusses the outcome of the Republican primary election in the race to complete the remainder of former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords’ term in office.

Ted Simons: After yesterday's special primary election, we now know the candidates looking to complete the remainder of Gabrielle Giffords's term in congress. Here to tell us about the election and how the race is shaping up is Rebekah Sanders, the congressional reporter for the Arizona Republic. Good to see you again and thanks for joining us.

Rebekah Sanders: Thank you.

Ted Simons: So Jesse Kelly wins on the Republican side, correct?

Rebekah Sanders: That's right.

Ted Simons: Who is Jesse Kelly?

Rebekah Sanders: Jesse Kelly works with his father's construction firm. Is a former marine, served in the Iraq war. And more notably ran for Congress against Gabrielle Giffords. That's what the special election is for, is to fill the remain months of her term

Ted Simons: So he lost that election to Giffords but now Giffords will not complete her term he's running in the special election to complete that term. Who did he beat in the primary?

Rebekah Sanders: Several Republicans came out for this, and it was a crazy race. Only two months or so long, you know and people really had to get going fast and the other three were State Senator Frank Antinore. He served in the army, retired green beret and served in that area for, for several years and we also had Martha McSally, a retired air force pilot. She worked in Germany and elsewhere in the world on deployments and was no name candidate but really, got a lot of traction, and then Dave Sitton, the voice of the Wildcats. He announces sports games for the U of A, and runs a marketing company, and is known as a long-time businessman in the area with roots in the community.

Ted Simons: before we get to the Democratic side, McSally was a no name. Wound up second if I'm not mistaken. Is that name to watch down there?

Rebekah Sanders: I think that she has gotten a lot of play in the national media. She's really kind of impressed people in the short time frame that she has been on the ground in the election. Interestingly she's on the Republican side, but people kind of have started comparing her bit to Giffords, as a go-getter woman who has pushed gender barriers, and more notably, she really tries to tread the line of not going too far to the right in the stances that she puts forward and tries to play to the middle like Giffords did.

Ted Simons: Jesse Kelly plays to the right as far as the tea party support and those kinds of things. Let's go to the Democrats and find out who Ron Barber is because that's, basically, he is the candidate.

Rebekah Sanders: Yes. Here in the special election, just for the remaining months, Ron Barber is unopposed, the former district director forgive Giffords, and was injured the day that she was in the shooting in Tucson last year has a lot of relationships within the community, but also is this candidate who is not really known by name that well. But, he will face some, some competition in the next election for the next term.

Ted Simons: And we should mention this is to complete CD 8, and that folds into the same region, I should say, folds into CD 2, a brand new kind of a district down there. Next go around so whoever -- well, let's talk about this, whoever wins the special election, they have leg up, I would think, on the CD 2 race coming up. But whoever loses this, would they still be that party's candidate, do you think? If Barber loses or Kelly does, are we going to see them again in the CD race?

Rebekah Sanders: The only thing for sure in the next six months or so is craziness. We have got these two elections, basically, overlapping each other. One for the term through January. One for the term that will start in January and go for two years. And if the winner of this special election goes on, will definitely go on to have an advantage. They will have incumbent status, and they will have proved themselves and also, the voter turnout will be better, in you know, August and November. But, for instance, if Ron Barber or Jesse Kelly were to lose the special election, it might, actually, open up the door for the challengers to really say, well look, the voters didn't like this candidate, the first time around, or the second time around, you know, go for me.

Ted Simons: And describe that district. Describe District 8 as it stands right now. Is it leaning slightly Republican?

Rebekah Sanders: That's right. It's one of the more competitive districts in Arizona right now for the special election, it leans heavier Republican, and it will be slightly less Republican for the full term election.

Ted Simons: What does that mean for a Democrat like Ron Barber bus obviously, the numbers may not be in his favor, but being such a close personal friend, aid to Gabrielle Giffords, that's huge.

Rebekah Sanders: Yeah. Her support is going to be factor, and there is still raw emotions down there. When I was report on a debate in Tucson, among the republicans, one of the moderators choked up talking about the shooting, but that being said, I think that voters are really looking for the issues and finding out about the candidates. I don't think that it's going to be only about a sympathy vote.

Ted Simons: And with that in mind, and Jesse Kelly, again, coming in having lost to Gabrielle Giffords once. And playing pretty far to the right in terms of the primary, were concerned, will he have to move to the center a bit in the general election? And when is the general election, by the way?

Rebekah Sanders: General election for the special election is June 12. So not much time before then, it's really going to heat up quickly, especially now that we have got the two nominees and we'll probably see a lot of party money flowing in for both candidates because both Republicans and Democrats really want to claim this seat.

Ted Simons: Last question here, I would think this would be something that a lot of political observers will be watching to see what the temperature is of the electorate out there?

Rebekah Sanders: It should help give some direction on how well the normal elections go in the fall. Although everyone says look, these special elections are often unusual, which are really hard to predict.

Ted Simons: All right, well, it will be fascinating to watch because obviously, Gabrielle Giffords involved, everyone is paying attention and it should be --

Rebekah Sanders: June 12.

Ted Simons: Ok. We have got to go good to see and you thanks for joining us.

Rebekah Sanders: Thanks a lot.

Rebekah Sanders:Reporter at Arizona Republic;

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