Ron Barber, who almost lost his life in the same Arizona shooting rampage where former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords almost lost hers, won a special election to serve out the six months left in her term.
"This was never Gabby's seat. It's not my seat. It's your seat. This seat belongs to the people of southern Arizona," Barber told the crowd in a victory speech.
Barber, 66, Giffords' handpicked successor and a former aide in the House of Representatives, led with 52 percent of the vote, Reuters says. His Republican rival, Jesse Kelly, 30, a construction project manager and Iraq war veteran, had 45 percent, according to a tally from 86 percent of precincts.
"Life takes unexpected turns and here we are, thanks to you," Barber told supporters who appeared on stage with Giffords, 42, and her husband, retired astronaut Mark Kelly at a Tucson hotel after his victory Tuesday night, Fox news reported.
Giffords hugged him and kissed his forehead.
Giffords, seen as a rising Democratic star in the U.S. House of Representatives, had stepped down in January to focus on her recovery from a gunshot wound to the head she suffered on January 8, 2011, when a gunman opened fire on the congresswoman and a crowd of bystanders at a meet-and-greet at a Tucson, Ariz. Tucson supermarket. Six people were killed and 13 others were wounded, including Giffords and Barber. He was shot in the face and thigh.
But KPHO news says that this race isn't only significant because he will be replacing Gabby Giffords, but political analysts have been saying it sets a stage for what may happen nationally in November.
Now that Barber comes out on top, the GOP will not be able to use Tucson as an example for voters wanting a change from the status quo.
He could have Giffords to thank, in part. ABC News Radio says the former representative’s emotional and spiritual presence should not be underestimated.
Barber ran with Giffords' blessing, whose popularity and political stature seemed only to climb as she soldiered, and continues to soldier on through a difficult recovery.
Limping heavily on Tuesday, Reuters reports, Giffords briefly waved to reporters and said, "Good morning. How are you?" as she went to cast her vote.
She has struggled to regain speech and movement in her right arm and leg since the shooting.
The man accused of the Tucson shooting rampage, Jared Loughner, 23, has pleaded not guilty to 49 criminal offenses, including first-degree murder. Reuters notes, he has been declared mentally unfit to stand trial and is undergoing psychiatric treatment at a federal prison hospital in Missouri.