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Thursday, October 23, 2014 | Last updated: 1:01am

Rep. Ron Barber's win a sign of Democrats' growing influence



The winner of Arizona’s District 2 Congressional House race has been declared after nearly two weeks of vote-counting kerfuffle.

Democratic Rep. Ron Barber, who won the special election to replace former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in June, will return to Congress for a full two-year term, beating out his Republican challenger, Martha McSally.

The race, which seemed too close to call on Election Day, was decided last Saturday when Barber pulled ahead of McSally by 1,402 votes out of the more than 285,000 ballots counted.

“I’m really proud and honored that I’ve been given another opportunity to serve,” Barber told The Associated Press after being declared the winner. “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.”

Barber’s hard-fought victory increases the number of Arizona’s Congressional Democrats to five, marking the first time in 45 years that the state’s Congressional delegation has been composed of more Democrats than Republicans — an impressive achievement for a notoriously conservative state.

Arizona voters weren’t the only ones seeing blue on Nov. 6. In Florida’s 18th Congressional District race, Tea Party darling and titan of conservatism, Congressman Allen West conceded to Democratic challenger Patrick Murphy after his requested recount only increased the amount of votes he’d lost by.

Democrats on the whole should be delighted with the results of the 2012 election. Not only was an incumbent Democratic president re-elected, but both the House and Senate saw considerable increases in their respective Democratic delegations.

Barber’s victory, West’s trouncing and the Democratic Party’s sweeping gains this year are indicative of the direction the country is moving in ideologically.

For the first time since its shellacking in 2010, the Democratic Party’s message of inclusion, progressive taxation and collective welfare is reaching the American people.

Two years ago, the liberal brand was trampled by an insurgency of Tea Party Republicans who were intent on “taking the country back.”

Now that people realize that the GOP’s only intent is to take the country back to the Stone Age, they’ll start voting for representatives that actually stake out rational positions on the issues of the day. This means that talk of outlawing contraception and privatizing Social Security isn’t going to fly anymore.

Todd Akin may think he’s speaking on behalf of America’s anti-abortion majority when he spouts nonsense about conception and “legitimate rape,” but in reality he’s contributing to the marginalization of a growing segment of the population that values reproductive liberty.

In the same vein, Mitt Romney may think he’s wooing a sizeable portion of the electorate when he suggests that a minority’s vote can be bought with “gifts,” but what he’s actually doing is ticking off an electorate that becomes more diverse every election cycle.

Barber’s victory, in tandem with the Democratic Party’s sweep of the country’s competitive House and Senate races, is a sign that the party may finally have the support needed to eke out a governing majority and change the country’s ideological character.

— Nyles Kendall is a political science senior. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu or on Twitter via @WildcatOpinions .


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