ABC News' "14 For 14" project is documenting 14 races that matter between now and November. This page will be updated throughout the year. See the full list of 2014 midterm election contests the ABC News political team is tracking.
Ding ding! It's round two for Democrat Rep. Ron Barber of Arizona and his 2012 Republican challenger, retired Air Force Col. Martha McSally. Last they met the two were in a dead heat on election night, neck and neck for the state's 2nd district congressional seat. In the end Barber prevailed, but not by much—garnering only 2,500 more votes than McSally. On the 2014 docket are hot-button issues that span the partisan political spectrum: gun control, immigration & border patrol, healthcare, and more. Formerly Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' district director, Barber, who was also shot during the shooting in Tucson, never planned to run for Congress. But after Giffords announced plans to retire in 2011, he ran in the special election for her seat, with her backing, and won. The state redistricted shortly after, and Barber ran against McSally for the new 2nd district in 2012. McSally was the first female fighter pilot to fly and command a fighter squadron in combat in American history, and served in war zones like Iraq Afghanistan prior to her 2010 retirement from the military. From 2001-2002, while stationed in Saudi Arabia, McSally gained national attention for initiating the overturn of a military policy requiring all U.S. servicewomen to wear a Muslim Abaya and headscarf when off base in the country, which included suing then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld against his military orders. McSally has a Masters Degree in public policy from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and was selected for a competitive Legislative fellowship on Capitol Hill where she served as a national security adviser to former Senator Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.). McSally was working a professor in Germany at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies when she moved to Arizona to run in the 2012 House race. I As a second-time challenger, McSally not only has more resources at her disposal, but she's also solidified herself as a credible candidate in the eyes of the Republican Party. However, fellow Air Force veteran Chuck Wooten, a Tea Party Republican, raised the stakes when he announced his intentions to run for the nomination in early February. Even so, McSally remains the party favorite -- and has the fundraising dollars to prove it. Although Barber has more cash on hand, McSally has been out-raising him since July. In the final fundraising quarter of 2013 Barber raised more than $250,000, bringing his ending cash on hand t over $939,000. McSally’s campaign raised roughly $313,000, ending the year with nearly $548,000 cash on hand.
Barber has a tough fight on his hands. Although McSally will face Wooten and local businesswoman Shelley Kais in the August Republican primary, she appears poised to win the nomination -- at least for now. For his part, Barber is listed as one of the National Republican Congressional Committee’s seven early targets for 2014. (His district is the seventh most Republican district represented by a Democratic incumbent). What’s more, Barber is up against the spending power of conservative groups backing McSally in the battleground race. Americans for Prosperity launched an ad criticizing Barber on Obamacare in October, then launched a $650,000 broadcast, cable and radio attack campaign against Barber and fellow Arizona Democrat Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick for three weeks in January. And that’s likely to be just the beginning. Barber has been keeping his name in the headlines. He hosted Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson's inaugural trip to the U.S.-Mexican border in late January. He's also been voting with Republicans on partisan issues like making changes to the Affordable Care Act. Although she is shaping up to be a stronger contender, McSally has never held office before and has no formal political experience. As a second-time challenger, some political observers say that if McSally didn't have the clout to clinch the seat in 2012, she may not have it now.
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