Democrat Ron Barber has an uncontested shot at the nomination to be the Democrats’ candidate to fill out Gabrielle Giffords’ Congressional District 8 term. He is, for this election at least, unopposed. Hence, liberal-leaning independents have the opportunity to influence the election by voting in the Republican primary.
This strategy is not an unheard of gambit…it was reported the other day that even Mitt Romney has done it. In states with closed primaries, where independents can’t vote in the party primaries, you must temporarily change your registration to do this.
In Arizona an Independent may vote as he or she chooses. So if you want to help Barber in the general election you might choose the Republican you judge his weakest possible opponent. (Jim Kelly, Frank Antenori, Dave Sitton, or Martha McSally)
Independent voting is a two-edged sword of course. Republican- leaning Independents may vote for the Republican candidate they judge strongest against the Democrat in the general election.
Now that Barber has announced that he will run for the full Congressional term in the new District 2, as well as running to complete Giffords’ term, voting decisions for both Democrats and Republicans become more complicated.
Beginning with Barber, his decision to run again in November imposes on him a series of contests in which he will not get anything like a free pass.
The current run for the District 8 congressional seat will surely be more hotly contested by the Republicans, regardless of which Republican wins the primary. They will not wish to risk ceding the power of incumbency to the Democrats in the November election.
If he loses the District 8 race it is an open question whether he would choose to run for the district 2 seat against the new incumbent congressman who had just defeated him.
If Barber wins, he will most likely have a contested primary for the District 2 seat against a slate of Democrats who chose to honor both him and Gabrielle by passing on the District 8 race.
The primary opposition could be serious. Three Arizona legislators have thrown their hats in the ring. Paula Aboud, Steve Farley and Matt Heinz have sound legislative backgrounds and solid name recognition.
Just in the wings is Stanford Law School graduate Nan Stockholm Walden who is widely believed to be favored by early Giffords supporters.
Until Barber announced today this was the Democratic candidate slate.
Who knows what it will be tomorrow…but now the fun begins.