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Rep. Giffords’ Aide Wins her Seat in Special Election

By: JTA
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Ron Barber, a former aide to U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, won her seat in a special election.

Barber, who decided to run after Giffords formerly resigned her seat earlier this year to recover from a shooting in January 2011, defeated Jesse Kelly, a Republican who suffered a narrow defeat to Giffords in the 2010 election for the swing district in Arizona.

Barber was wounded in the assassination attempt on Giffords, a Jewish Democrat. Jared Loughner, the acknowledged shooter now on trial, killed six others attending a meet-and-greet at a strip mall in Tucson.

Giffords, still recovering from her head wound, campaigned for Barber and appeared with him Tuesday night at his victory rally, kissing him on the forehead.

Barber and Kelly will face each other again in November.

In other elections Tuesday, George Allen won the nod from Virginia Republicans to run for his old U.S. Senate seat in November. Allen and his opponent, Tim Kaine, are former governors of the state.

Allen was the incumbent U.S. senator when he was narrowly defeated by Jim Webb in 2006 after he used a slur, “macaca,” to describe a videographer for the Webb campaign. The odd slur – used by French North Africans to deride people of color – led the media to discover that Allen’s mother was a Tunisian Jew.

At first, Allen vehemently denied that his mother was Jewish, compounding his image problem. After his defeat, he studied Judaism and his mother’s history and has reached out to the Jewish community.

The seat is open because Webb is retiring after one term.

In Nevada, Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.) easily won the primary and will face Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) in November. Berkley is a stalwart of the pro-Israel community, having served in a number of Jewish groups before beginning her political career.

Heller, named to the seat after John Ensign resigned in a scandal, has reached out intensively to pro-Israel groups in the last year.

Nevada, with its substantial Jewish population, is seen as a swing state in the November election.

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