Republican Tucson City Councilman Steve Kozachik is jumping party lines to help Democrat Ron Barber in his special election campaign.
And Kozachik is once again proposing all candidates — Republicans and Democrats alike — step aside and let Barber complete the term of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who resigned last month to focus on her recovery from being shot in the head in an assassination attempt on Jan. 8, 2011.
But it doesn’t look like his idea has much of a chance of gaining traction. All five Republican candidates have confirmed they'll stay in the race. The field includes Frank Antenori, Jesse Kelly, Dave Sitton, John Lervold and Martha McSally.
Letting Barber run totally unopposed would prevent voters from getting to know who Barber is and where he stands on issues, said Sam Stone, spokesman for McSally.
“He could essentially sit at home for the next couples of months and nobody would have any idea,” Stone said. “The voters need to know who they are sending and where he stands.”
At a critical time for the nation, voters deserve to be able to choose who can best be their voice in Washington D.C., said Sitton in an emailed statement.
"I won't stand down now, nor will I stand down when fighting for our community's values in Washington," Sitton said.
Lervold said there's "no chance" he's stepping down.
"If the "anointed" person is, in fact, the best person for the job and the person the constituents want, they will vote for him," Lervold said in an email.
Barber ended weeks of speculation by announcing Thursday that he'll run in the special election. Kozachik said Barber called him Friday morning to thank him for proposing his idea earlier this year then asked him if he would join his campaign’s steering committee. Kozachik agreed to help in any way he can.
Kozachik said the principal behind the proposal to allow Barber to run unopposed is logical. By letting Barber win the special election and complete the term, the five Republican candidates who have announced intentions to run in the special election can focus on battling it out in the August primary for the November general election in the new Congressional District 2.
Giffords’ staff has been handling constituent issues in her absence and the community should honor their hard work by letting Barber finish the term, he said.
“If these guys really cared about the constituents they are about to serve they ought to recognize what I’m suggesting makes intuitive sense,” Kozachik said. “People are trying to win this seat and run on some phony incumbency idea in a district that is not even going to exist at the end of the year.”
Kozachik has already begun to receive blowback from fellow Republicans but said he doesn’t care. Besides, he’s a moderate and aligns on many issues with Giffords, he said.
“I don’t think I’ll feel like a fish out of water at all,” he said about helping out during the Democratic campaign.
Asked if his proposal still makes sense considering that Barber has not ruled out running in the new district in the general election, Kozachik said his understanding from talking to Barber is that he plans to only run in the special election.
Contact reporter Brady McCombs at 573-4213 or firstname.lastname@example.org