Former Rep. Giffords to campaign with Democrat running to replace her

Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) will campaign in Arizona with Democrat Ron Barber, the former aide who is running to replace her.

Giffords will appear with Barber at a get-out-the-vote rally and concert at a historic theater in Tucson, Ariz., on Saturday, three days before the special election to replace her.

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“She knows that Ron is the only person running who will fight for Southern Arizona,” read an invitation to Barber’s supporters from Jennifer Cox, Barber’s campaign manager. “So, Gabby is coming to town to help get out the vote for Ron.”

Giffords has made few public appearances since narrowly surviving an assassination attempt at a campaign event in her district in January 2011. Giffords personally asked Barber to run to replace her, and has endorsed his campaign, but has not appeared on the trail until now.

Barber, who served as Giffords’s district director, was shot twice in the January 2011 spree that killed six, critically injured Giffords and led to her resignation from the House one year later.

Giffords’s favorite band, the Tucson-based Calexico, will play at the concert. The band played frequently at Giffords’s own campaign events and her husband, Mark Kelly, selected one of the group's songs as the wake-up call for the crew of the Discovery shuttle mission he commanded in 2008, NPR reported.

Democrats have consistently reminded voters of Barber’s ties to Giffords, aware that she remains a popular and powerful political force in Arizona. Her supporters and former colleagues in Congress have spoken confidently about an eventual return to public service.

Barber faces Republican Jesse Kelly in the June 12 special election to finish her term. Kelly ran against Giffords in 2010 and came within 2 points of unseating her.