Jesse Kelly, a construction project manager and Iraq War veteran, won the Republican primary Tuesday in Arizona's Eighth Congressional District to fill the seat that Gabrielle Giffords vacated after she resigned to focus on her recovery after being shot in the head in January 2011.
Kelly had almost 36 percent of the vote in a four-way primary, according to results Wednesday morning. Ron Barber, a former Giffords aide, ran unopposed in the Democratic primary. They will face off in a June 12 special election.
If Kelly is a familiar name, it is because the tea party favorite ran and narrowly lost against Giffords in 2010.
Immediately following Giffords' shooting, many recalled a June 2010 event held by Kelly in which voters could shoot an M16 with the GOP candidate. "Get on Target for Victory in November Help remove Gabrielle Giffords from office Shoot a fully automatic M16 with Jesse Kelly," read the announcement.
"I think a majority of the voters like our plans," said Kelly after he won Tuesday.
He's proposed a ten percent flat tax. "If 10 percent is good enough for Jesus, it's good enough for the federal government. They can find a way to make that number work," he said in an April debate.
Kelly has repeatedly raised the issue of gas prices in the campaign, claiming that the U.S. has more oil than Saudi Arabia and even calling oil a "renewable resource."
"Drill here, Drill now and pay less. We have significantly more oil in this nation than Saudi Arabia. Start getting it. We have all the coal we could ever want. We have all the natural gas we could ever want.They estimate we have a 90 to 100 year supply of natural gas. We also have all the uranium we could ever want for nuclear power," he said at an April 5 debate. According to the CIA World Factbook, Saudi Arabia is first in proven oil reserves, while the United States is thirteenth.
At a Tea Party event in February, he said, "Three decades ago, they told us there were 800 million barrels of oil existing in the world. Today, because of technology, there’s over a trillion. So apparently it is the renewable resource we’ve all been talking about!"
Not missing an opportunity, Kelly raised the issue of gas prices in a panel discussion on the Trayvon Martin shooting. Fox News' Sean Hannity asked him whether President Barack Obama was at fault for a "flash mob" incident following the slaying.
"I think it's 100% the fault of Barack Obama and the other politicians in Washington," he responded. Pivoting, he said, "Because he's willing to stick his nose in anything right now to get the American people's minds off the fact that's there's really 14 percent unemployment, and gas at four dollars a gallon when we have more oil than Saudi Arabia in this country."
Later on in the discussion, he accused politicians of "grandstanding" on the incident. "No one knows the facts yet and to have everybody grandstanding on it, everybody making a statement on it, trying, as I said, to capitalize on a horrible tragedy like this is more than just gross: it's sad, really."
A new slightly more Democratic district encompassing most of the old district is up for election in November, and both Kelly and Barber have said that they will run in it.