WASHINGTON — Ron Barber, who almost died in the Arizona shooting that wounded former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, was sworn in Tuesday as a member of the House.
Barber is a Democrat who won a special election to succeed Giffords, his former boss.
He was shot twice, once in the face and once in the leg, in the January 2011 shootings in Tucson that left six dead and nearly killed his predecessor.
Barber defeated Republican Jesse Kelly, who narrowly lost to Giffords in 2010. Giffords was in Tucson during the campaign's final days to help her former district director.
Barber won about 52 percent of the vote while Kelly had 46 percent.
Both parties made claims about the significance of Barber's victory. Democrats cast the race as a referendum on Republican proposals for Social Security and Medicare. Republicans stressed that Barber's victory came after he emphasized his differences with President Barack Obama on health care and other issues.
Barber, in his maiden speech, paid tribute to his former boss.
He noted that he was standing "on the floor of the House in the very spot where five months ago, my friend and my predecessor Gabrielle Giffords bravely delivered her resignation from Congress.
"I thank the congresswoman for her vision and leadership and the inspiration she gives to our country."
Barber said he does not want to be driven by partisanship, and cited the example of the late Rep. Mo Udall, a Democrat, and the late Sen. Barry Goldwater, a Republican – Arizona lawmakers who disagreed "but did so without being disagreeable." Barber said they came together many times for the good of the country.
Barber will serve for the remainder of Giffords' term, but will have to run again in November.
There are now 242 House Republicans, 191 Democrats and two vacancies.