By Josh Lederman - 06/08/12 01:37 PM EDT
Democrat Ron Barber, the aide to former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) running in Tuesday’s special election to replace her, pushed back Friday against those who have dubbed it Giffords's seat.
“People have said to me, ‘We’re so glad you’re running for Gabby’s seat.’ This is not Gabby’s seat,” Barber told MSNBC. “This is not Ron Barber’s seat. This is the people’s seat.”
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) has been referring to the seat as “Gabby’s seat” for months in fundraising pitches to supporters. DCCC Chairman Steve Israel (N.Y.) sent out a blast email Wednesday with the subject line “Gabby’s seat,” and referred to it as her seat three more times in the email.
Even Mark Kelly, Giffords’s husband, used the phrase in an email sent out by Barber’s own campaign in May.
“We saw how close Jesse Kelly came to winning in 2010, and we cannot let him take Gabby’s seat in this special election,” Kelly wrote under the banner “Ron Barber for Congress.”
Asked Friday about his efforts to distance himself from President Obama, Barber accused his opponent, Republican Jesse Kelly, of trying to make the race about national political issues, noting that Kelly has tried to saddle him with unpopular legislation Giffords voted for, even though Barber has never served in Congress.
"My opponent continually tries to nationalize this race, tries to associate me with bills I’ve never had anything to do with,” Barber said.