The stage is set for the rematch of 2012’s most closely contested congressional race, as Martha McSally has won her bid to once again challenge U.S. Rep. Ron Barber for a seat in Congress.
McSally, a retired Air Force colonel running for the opportunity to challenge Barber for the second consecutive election cycle, has 69.8 percent of the vote for the GOP nomination in Arizona’s 2nd Congressional District so far, with 8.25 percent of precincts reporting.
Retired Air Force officer Chuck Wooten, who has 21.7 percent of the vote, is a distant second. Green Valley business owner Shelley Kais, is in third with 8.1 percent.
Republican write-in candidate Sydney Dudikoff is also vying for the nomination, but has just 164 votes so far.
The primary had long been considered a formality for McSally, as poll watchers nationwide have tagged the CD2 seat in the U.S. House of Representative to be among the most closely contested congressional races in the country.
CD2 covers southeastern Arizona, including most of the eastern half of Tucson, and has a narrow split among Republican and Democratic voters — a difference of less than one percent.
Barber, a Tucson Democrat and former staffer to Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, narrowly defeated McSally in 2012 to defend the seat he won in a special election after Giffords was shot in Tucson in 2011. Barber was also injured in the shooting.
Republicans are betting that, after losing by less than 1 percent of the vote in 2012, a now well-known McSally can flip the seat from blue to red.
She’s proven a strong candidate so far this election cycle, having routinely outraised Barber and capitalized on the national attention the campaign has received.
Barber is running unopposed in the primary election.