Reporters: Craig Smith, Kevin Keen
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - It was Ron Barber's night last night. He won Congressional District Eight by a comfortable margin.
Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her husband Mark Kelly led Barber to the stage. She was still showing the effect of the injuries from the January 8th mass shooting, that led her to resign and clear the way for the special election decided last night.
Barber was her district director. She had urged him to run to replace her.
Giffords didn't speak, but her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly, did:
He said: "We are incredibly excited that Ron will head to Washington next week to represent all of you.."
Barber promised the crowd to protect Social Security and Medicare, protect the middle class, and work for veterans and military families, build the economy and build an education system Arizona can be proud of.
He said, "And all of this can be built, and our middle class can be rebuilt but only if together we stand up for our values. I say and we say, no to extreme politics."
In an interview with KGUN9 news Barber says even in the few months left before he has to be elected again, he can still achieve a lot for the district. He says one of the first things he'll do is try to get on congressional committees with particular impact on Southern Arizona.
When the results came, Republican contender Jesse Kelly took to the podium at his campaign party.
Kelly said he had called Barber to concede the race.
The Republican thanked God, his wife, family and supporters.
He kept his remarks very brief before heading directly home.
He said, "I'm obviously not going to go on and on; looks like we're done in this one. But I just, from the bottom of heart, please believe me when I tell you thank you so much. You have no idea how much you have blessed me and how much you have blessed my family.
Reporters asked Kelly what was next in his future.
Kelly said, "Only God knows."
The Republican also said he'd announce in the coming days if he'll enter the primary for Congressional District Two, which will take the place of the current District Eight decided last night.