After Wisconsin, you might think everything’s coming up roses for Republicans, but last night they didn’t win a special House election that had looked competitive:
More than a year after the nation’s attention was focused on critically injured then–U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and those killed and wounded alongside her, the spotlight returned Tuesday to southern Arizona as her former aide Ron Barber won the special election to serve out her remaining term.
With nearly 66 percent of the precincts reporting, Barber had nearly 53 percent of the vote, up 8 points over Republican opponent Jesse Kelly, with most early ballots counted, according to unofficial election results.
Kelly conceded the race a little before 9:45 p.m.
The district lines will shift in November and there will be a GOP primary before then. One of my Arizona guys wrote in late last night, “Yuck! Going to numb myself with a few glasses of sherry . . . I think the problem was with county GOP GOTV effort.”
UPDATE: My Arizona guy, active in GOP politics in his corner of the state, sends along this assessment:
It’s early morning in Tucson and it’s time to look the loss by Jesse Kelly in the congressional race straight in the face.
We should have won this. In 2010 Kelly lost to Giffords, a better candidate by only 4,000 votes. This year he lost to a weaker candidate by 13,000 votes and 7% in a district that has more Republicans than Democrats.
The problem this year was the Get Out the Vote program (GOTV). The district has a lot of independents, but the Pima County GOTV decided to ignore them and only target Republican voters, especially those who vote early. This was contrary to what the NRCC and the Arizona State party recommended. The county party responded by saying its only responsibility was to deliver Republicans.
The result was that Kelly lost many independents. Precincts that he won in 2010 because of the independents were lost this year.
The moral is that GOTV is critical. Republicans must work to get their more independent minded neighbors out to the polls and vote Republican. If we only rely on Republican voters, Obama will win again this year.
In November, Barber will face different district lines in a slightly Republican-leaning district; “as of July, the new 2nd Congressional District had slightly more registered Republicans, 131,000, than registered Democrats, 129,000. It also had 117,000 voters registered as independents or with third parties.” Under the new lines, Santa Cruz County will not be included.
The old lines:
The new lines:
UPDATE: The Pima County GOP strongly disagrees with the characterization of their efforts from my source, and lays out their efforts in this race here.