Ron Barber, Former Gabrielle Giffords Aide, Wins Seat in Congress After Close Race

(Image Credit: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/Getty Images)

Democrat Ron Barber, former aide to Gabrielle Giffords, was declared the winner today of a tight congressional race in Southern Arizona.

By late Friday, Barber had a 1,402-vote lead on his opponent, Republican Martha McSally, The Associated Press reported, adding that only 15,000 provisional ballots remained to be counted in the whole of Pima County, including areas not in the 2nd District, making it impossible for McSally to prevail.

This morning, she called Barber and conceded the race, a spokesperson for the Democrat told

The hard-fought battle played out in a newly redrawn district in Southern Arizona that covers parts of Tucson and Pima County and all of Cochise County.

McSally, a retired Air Force colonel and the first female to fly in combat, ran on issues that including cutting taxes, reducing federal regulation and the sanctity of life. Barber touted his Southern Arizona roots to voters and his pledge to help strengthen the middle class.

In June, Barber won a special election in what was then Arizona's 8th Congressional District, to take over Gabrielle Giffords' seat following her resignation.

"I never expected to be in Congress. When I won the special election I was thrilled about that and now I have two years to get some work done, and I really understand what the issues are nationally and locally and I'm going to be working hard on those," he told the AP.

Barber, who is a 67-year-old grandfather, was shot in the thigh and cheek during a meet-and-greet with constituents of Giffords in January of 2011. Six people were killed, while 13 others, including Giffords, who was hit in the head, were wounded.