- Gabby Giffords continues to recover from a 2011 shooting
- She's recorded a video ad for her successor, Ron Barber
- Barber is in a tough re-election campaing, opposed by Republican Martha McSally
Former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords is urging Arizona voters to supporter her successor, Rep. Ron Barber, who is locked in a tough race for re-election, with a personal video appeal.
Giffords, who has been recovering since being seriously wounded in a 2011 shooting, speaks clearly into the camera as she says, "We expect our leaders to fight for us, not the special interests. Ron Barber is independent, he's courageous, and most of all he's Arizona through and through."
This ad from the political action committee founded by Giffords -- Americans for Responsible Solutions -- follows some controversy about a previous ad from the same group attacking Barber's opponent, Republican Martha McSally.
Barber is a former congressional aide to Giffords. They were both wounded in that same attack as she was greeting constituents. He won a special election to replace her after she resigned her seat in 2012 and then he was re-elected to a full term in 2012.
The campaign for Arizona's 2nd Congressional District this year again pits Barber against McSally, a retired Air Force colonel. He barely beat her two years ago, and the 2014 race is rated a tossup by the nonpartisan Rothenberg and Cook political reports.
This is the fourth ad in this contest from Americans for Responsible Solutions, which Giffords and her husband Mark Kelly formed to help push for stronger gun-control legislation, including more stringent background checks for purchases. Several of the group's previous spots went after McSally for not supporting closing a gap that allowed stalkers with misdemeanor convictions to buy guns but barring those convicted of felonies from such purposes.
One of those spots became controversial for featuring a mother whose 19-year-old daughter was stalked and shot to death by her ex-boyfriend. In the wake of the ad, her campaign later said McSally would support new legislation preventing those convicted of a misdemeanor stalking crime from buying a gun and revealed she had been a victim of stalking earlier.
The ad and the topic of how to deal with gun violence were featured in a debate between McSally and Barber on Tuesday.
McSally said she was a proud supporter of the National Rifle Association, adding she wanted to make sure gun violence was minimized and "is obviously addressed in our communities."
Then she added: "We have different ways of talking about that. But the way that this has happened in this campaign has just been disgraceful. There were ads that were run by your allies that were considered vile and nasty by the Arizona Republic (newspaper)."
McSally pushed Barber over the stalking ad. He responded, "The ad was not run by me, and I'm not going to talk about an ad that I didn't sponsor. But when you talk about allies, the ad was run by someone who is highly regarded in this community and across the country for her work to prevent gun violence and that's Gabby Giffords. But that aside, what my opponent has said is that she now accepts the notion that we should have misdemeanor stalkers prohibited from having a gun. The problem with her position is that she still refuses to say we should expand background checks."
Americans for Responsible Solutions says the cost of its new ad is "a strong six-figure buy" and will air for two weeks on broadcast, cable, and online.
The controversial stalking ad is not the only creating some controversy in this election.
The National Republican Congressional Committee this week started airing a spot attacking Barber by featuring some of Giffords' past positions, such as voting against former House Speaker and current Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, as it tries to show Giffords was more independent than Barber is.
Giffords released a statement saying: "No organization or person -- no matter which party they say they represent -- should think they can come to Southern Arizona and pretend to speak for me ... I work hard to speak, but's my voice. So take it from me: Ron is an independent leader in Congress, and no one will fight harder for our community."