And the NRCC’s first independent expenditure goes to . . . Jesse Kelly

| April 28 2012
Christopher Cook

The NRCC (National Republican Congressional Committee) is signaling its intent to win the seat being vacated by Gabrielle Giffords and contended for by previous candidate Jesse Kelly and Giffords’ heir-apparent Ron Barber.

The National Republican Congressional Committee will drop $150,000 on ads supporting Jesse Kelly, the GOP nominee in the special election to replace former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.).

It’s the NRCC’s first independent expenditure of 2012, a GOP source said, signaling the emphasis Republicans have placed on winning back the competitive seat in southern Arizona.

Needless to say, the Democrats’ response is typical: “Hey Seniors, Jess Kelly wants you to die in the streets, cold, sick, and hungry.”

“It isn’t surprising that Washington Republicans would come into our district in support of a candidate who shares their values in wanting to dismantle Medicare and who has said he wants to phase out Social Security,” said Barber spokeswoman Jessica Schultz. “They know that Ron Barber will fight to protect Medicare and Social Security.”

Such rhetoric doesn’t make those programs any less likely to go bankrupt. It doesn’t make them any less likely to collapse the U.S. economy due to a runaway sovereign debt crisis. But hey, it might scare a few seniors into voting for Barber.

But don’t count on that being enough. The election is a long way out, obviously, but some polls are already showing Kelly in the lead.

In its brief but strenuous life (from 2002 to 2012) Arizona’s 8th congressional district — which covers the Grand Canyon State’s southeastern border and stretches westward into Tucson — has been a swing district, sending the Republican Jim Kolbe to Washington, D.C., for four years before sending Giffords for six. According to one poll, reported by Roll Call, Kelly currently leads Barber by four points, 49 to 45 percent.

Whether the Democrats will be able to scare enough seniors or inject enough balkanization in the electorate to give Barber a narrow win remains to be seen. But this is a close district, and Arizona isn’t Vermont, so the Democrats might want to think about offering some workable solutions rather than just their typical scare-and-divide routine.

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