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CD2 election

Jesse Kelly won't make another Congress run

Tea Party Republican drops out of Az CD2 race

Republican Jesse Kelly, fresh off a second Congress-race loss in less than two years, won't seek the 2nd Congressional District seat in the fall, he said in a brief statement Thursday afternoon.

"Looking at the results from Tuesday, we have decided to withdraw from the race for Congress in AZ-02 and to seek other opportunities," Kelly said in the emailed statement.

Kelly won't be making a public appearance to announce his withdrawal, spokesman John Ellinwood said.

Kelly's loss to Democrat Ron Barber in Tuesday's special election by about 13,000 votes marked his second failure to win in Arizona's CD8 in under two years. He lost to Giffords by 4,000 votes in 2010.

Barber edged out Kelly by 6 percent: 103,316 to 90,305 votes in the final count.

Kelly's move leaves former Air Force pilot Martha McSally as the GOP's likely candidate in the fall. Political novice Mark Koskiniemi also will be on the Republican primary ballot.

McSally spokesman Sam Stone said the retired colonel is happy to "not be drawn down into a dogfight of a primary."

"We can start engaging the middle of the road voters who will decide the general election" instead of having to solely court right-wing party activists to make it through a primary.

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McSally, though a "Reagan conservative," is "not a bomb-thrower, not a hot head," Stone said.

Neither state Sen. Frank Antenori nor Dave Sitton filed to run in CD2, after trailing in the CD8 primary.

On the Democratic side, the newly elected Barber faces a primary challenge from state Rep. Matt Heinz, who said Wednesday that he's still in the race.

"I wouldn't have done a thing differently," Kelly told supporters in a concession speech as election results were reported Tuesday night.

"We came into this race with a plan ... the voters of Southern Arizona have chosen something different and that's fine," he said.

Kelly gave thanks to his family and friends, and said Tuesday that he would "most likely" run again in the fall.

"We expect to have an announcement about our future plans in the next day or two," Kelly said then.

A short statement posted Wednesday morning on Kelly's Facebook and Twitter pages said just "Thank you all for everything."

Just before 5 p.m. Wednesday, Kelly posted Teddy Roosevelt's "Man in the Arena" passage on Facebook, writing that it was "For all of you who fought along side us (sic)."

"We are blessed by God to live in a country where voters get exactly what they want," Kelly told supporters Tuesday night. "They have spoken here and we respect that."

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Ellinwood said he couldn't elaborate on Kelly's plans, saying that the Republican's job with his family's construction business, Don Kelly Construction, is one of the "other opportunities" that Kelly is considering.

Most of the current 8th District will be in the new 2nd District, created through the congressional reapportionment process held every decade.

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Latest comments on this storyRead all 6 »

Jun 15, 2012, 7:58 am
-0 +2

You know, another thing…stick your head in the sand all you want, but the math and the numbers back me up here…

Kelly was absolutely right. Social Security is a ponzi scheme that’s destined for failure. We need to formulate an exit strategy so we can get out of this while paying out the benefits already entitled. Younger generations should have alternatives, and some sort of say as to where their retirement money goes…isn’t choices and control over your own money what living in a free country is all about? Assuming someone starts working full-time at 18 and continues doing so until retirement, the average person would have to live to something like 113 just to reach the break-even point. Does that seem fair to you? Again, this is what he said, this is how he said it, and he was/is absolutely right.

That’s what he had been saying since the 2010 campaign. But, of course Giffords and Barber decided to take the low road and smear what he was saying to look like something completely different. Both those idiots showed their low character, and you voted them in anyway. Yeah, great job there CD8…

Jun 14, 2012, 7:53 pm
-0 +2

The fact that Kelly “doesn’t have a clue” as you incorrectly refer to it was part of his appeal to me.

I get sick to death of the old guard, the old mentality, the old way of doing things. I get sick to death of people whining and moaning and bitching about how screwed up things are, then they go to the polls and either vote in the same old shit, or a clone of the same old shit. What we need are more political novices with limited connections, new, fresh ideas, fresh perspectives, and a new way of doing things. That’s the only way things are going to get better in our country.

I like to think, am I may actually be right on this one, is that the framers of the Constitution make Congressional seats two-year terms because they didn’t want people making a career out of it. I believe they envisioned private citizens who wanted to serve their country to come in, serve a term or maybe two, and then return to their private life. I would love to see more Congressional turnover, especially in this region.

Make no mistake about it…Ron Barber is nothing more than Gabby Giffords in Burl Ives’ body. That’s it. It’s gonna be the same old shit…except this time the rep might actually live in the state.

Food for thought…Abraham Lincoln also lost two Congressional races. Just sayin’

Jun 14, 2012, 5:16 pm
-1 +3

I voted for Barber. 

Voting solely on the information presented by the official campaign and their “backers” is pretty foolish.  One might as well roll a die.

I know how the government works.  I understand the Constitution as well as the bureaucracy.  I can trace why a specific piece of red tape exists from lobbyist and constituent activities, to legislation, through rules, through funding, through court precedent.  Even better, I’m not surprised, happy or dismayed at what I find.
Anyone who wants the job as bad as Jesse Kelly does, obviously is completely head blind about the job requirements.  At least Barber has a clue.  Whether or not he meets the requirements is another story…but he has a clue.

I too wish Jesse Kelly well.  Perhaps after some seasoning in local politics, he may actually turn out to be a good candidate, but he strikes me the same way Barack Obama did.  Kelly is too naive. Worse he is intellectually undisciplined and flabby.

Not being able to grasp that others have valid opinions, desires and lives is a serious intellectual and emotional shortcoming.

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Kevin Asher/TucsonSentinel.com

Jesse Kelly prior to conceding the race Tuesday night.

Kelly's statement

I would like to thank our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, my wife Aubrey, and our supporters for their unwavering commitment to the values that make America great. Looking at the results from Tuesday, we have decided to withdraw from the race for Congress in AZ-02 and to seek other opportunities. I will forever be thankful to our generous supporters and volunteers.