Democrat losses today could be compounded if the party loses out on candidates who could win higher office in the future—and one rising star is in the fight of her life in Arizona: Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.
Giffords was swept into office as part of the Democrats' 2006 wave, but now her district's natural conservative leanings (it went 52 percent to 46 percent for McCain in 2008) are putting her in a vulnerable position. She's a very compelling figure—a young, charismatic Fulbright scholar, Scripps grad, and businesswoman who's married to an astronaut—and, as the Washington Post notes, someone the Democrats would like to cultivate for a possible Senate run in 2012.
Giffords is working hard to emphasize her bipartisan credentials, highlighting endorsements from 15 Republicans.
The Election Oracle currently shows the race as a 50-50 contest, a slight downgrade from just 24 hours ago, based on the online chatter favoring her opponent, Republican Jesse Kelly. Kelly is seeing particularly positive coverage online on national security issues, probably thanks to his own impressive credentials leading a squad of Marines in the Iraq War.
Giffords is working hard to emphasize her bipartisan credentials, recently holding a press conference to highlight endorsements from 15 Republicans, including two mayors and two former state lawmakers. With immigration being the monumental issue that it is in Arizona, Giffords is running ads featuring a local rancher praising her for making border security a priority. But Kelly went after Giffords in a recent debate for not supporting the state's controversial SB 1070 immigration law, which a federal judge has partially blocked over potential civil-rights violations, and it's clear he senses opportunity in that area.
Benjamin Sarlin is the Washington correspondent for The Daily Beast and edits the site's politics blog, Beltway Beast. He previously covered New York City politics for The New York Sun and has worked for talkingpointsmemo.com.