CREATED Jun 10, 2012
Reporter: Kevin Keen
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Voters in Southern Arizona head to the polls Tuesday to fill Gabrielle Giffords' seat in Congress. With the clock ticking, you might think the candidates are busy trying to sway undecided voters, but that's not necessarily the case. In fact, one candidate is not even in the state right now. KGUN9 News tried to track the three candidates down to see where they stand.
Democratic candidate Ron Barber was with volunteers in Green Valley and Tucson Sunday, but the group's goal wasn’t necessarily persuasion.
“It’s an out-of-cycle election in middle of summer so people have to be reminded that there is a special election going on,” Barber explained.
KGUN9 reporter Kevin Keen asked him, “Is it fair to say your focus, then, is getting people who have those ballots to turn them in or getting people to the polls and not so much swaying them one way or the other?” “I think by now I think swaying is not really where we're at because it was so close to the election,” the former district director for Gabrielle Giffords answered. “Most people have made their decision.”
Is that the case for Green Party candidate Charlie Manolakis?
“Do you think that most voters at this point have decided who they're going to vote for?” Keen asked Manolakis over the phone. “I think the general trends have shown that there's been a lot of people who decided already because of our relatively recent mail-in voting ballot process,” he answered.
Keen had to reach Manolakis by phone because he was in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. He volunteered this reason: “I've been making a lot of contacts with people who would instigate health care task forces that I would develop when in Congress. For example, I'm talking with the creator of AmeriCorps and trying to get some idea of how I can incorporate AmeriCorps into health care task forces.”
KGUN9 asked Republican contender Jesse Kelly for an interview for this story. By phone and e-mail over several days, KGUN9 received no response. His online campaign calendar listed no events Sunday.
Pima County Republican leaders said Kelly’s volunteers went door knocking Sunday, but asked if KGUN9 could hold off on an interview with local party leaders till Monday.
Recent numbers from the Pima County recorder’s office showed of the 190,300 early ballots mailed, voters returned 66 percent of them. Seventy percent of registered Democrats returned theirs, as did the same percentage of Republicans. Fifty-eight percent of independents returned their ballots.