Ron Barber

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Ron Barber
Rob barber, Official Portrait, 112th Congress.jpg
Member of the
U.S. House of Representatives
from Arizona
In office
June 12, 2012 – January 3, 2015
Preceded byGabby Giffords
Succeeded byMartha McSally
Constituency8th district (2012–2013)
2nd district (2013–2015)
Personal details
Ronald Sylvester Barber

(1945-08-25) August 25, 1945 (age 76)
Wakefield, England
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Nancy Barber
EducationUniversity of Arizona (BA)

Ronald Sylvester Barber (born August 25, 1945) is an American politician. He was a member of the United States House of Representatives from 2012 to 2015. Barber, a member of the Democratic Party from Arizona, served as district director for U.S. Representative Gabby Giffords before Giffords resigned her seat due to the severe injuries she sustained in an assassination attempt, during which Barber was also injured. He won the Democratic nomination for the special election to finish Giffords's term[1] and was sworn into office on June 19, 2012.[1]

In the 2012 general election, he was elected to a full term. His district—numbered as the 8th district in 2012, and as the 2nd district since 2013—includes the eastern two-thirds of Tucson, as well as the southeastern corner of Arizona. Barber lost his 2014 re-election bid to Martha McSally by 161 votes.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Barber was born in Wakefield, England, during World War II.[3] His father was an airman stationed at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. Barber graduated from Tucson's Rincon High School in 1963, and earned a B.A. from the University of Arizona in 1967.[4]

Early public sector career[edit]

Barber worked as director and program manager of the Arizona Division of Developmental Disabilities in Pima County from 1974 to 2006.[5][6]

Barber worked as Giffords' district director beginning in 2007. On January 8, 2011, Barber was shot in the thigh and face during an attempt on Giffords' life, in which Giffords was badly injured and six people were killed.

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]

Barber being sworn in by then-Speaker of the House John Boehner


2012 special election

In 2012, following the resignation of Giffords, Barber decided to seek election to the seat. On June 12, 2012, he defeated Jesse Kelly, an Iraq War veteran, in a special election.[1][7][8]

2012 regular election

On March 19, 2012, Barber announced that he would run for a full term in the district, which had been renumbered as the 2nd District, in the 2012 general election.[9] The district was, at least on paper, slightly more Democratic than its predecessor.[10] However, his race against Republican Martha McSally was one of the closest in the nation. McSally led on election night by a few hundred votes, but the race was initially too close to call due to a large number of provisional ballots. Barber eventually overtook McSally as more ballots were counted. By November 16, most of the outstanding ballots were in heavily Democratic precincts near Tucson. The Arizona Republic determined that as a result, McSally would not be able to pick up enough votes to overcome Barber's lead.[11] By November 17, Barber's lead over McSally had grown to 1,400 votes. The same day, the Associated Press determined there weren't enough ballots outstanding for McSally to regain the lead, and called the race for Barber.[12] McSally conceded the race later that morning.[11]


Barber ran for re-election in 2014. The Democratic primary election took place on August 26, 2014, with the general election slated for November 4, 2014. Martha McSally, whom Barber defeated in the 2012 election, won the Republican primary.[13][14] According to USA Today, Arizona's 2nd Congressional District was expected to feature one of the most competitive House races of 2014.[15]

In September 2014, Americans for Responsible Solutions, a pro-gun control PAC founded by Gabby Giffords, began running television ads in support of Barber.[16][17]

With 100% of the votes counted, McSally had a 161-vote lead and declared victory on November 12, 2014, but due to the fact that the margin of victory was less than 1%, an automatic recount was legally required. Barber's campaign had been holding on to hope that 762 rejected ballots from Pima County would be counted during the recount, which began on December 3, 2014.[18][19] Ultimately, Barber lost the recount to McSally by 161 votes.[2]


Touting his independence, Barber has voted the same way as Speaker of the House John Boehner on 10 out of the 16 occasions that Boehner has chosen to cast a vote – more than any other House Democrat.[20]

Health care policy

In May 2013, Barber voted against repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.[21]

Gun control

Barber is a strong supporter of gun control laws.[22] In 2013, Barber co-sponsored a bill that would expand background checks on gun sales.[16]


Barber characterizes himself as pro-choice, and has voted against legislation that would prohibit federal funding for health plans that include abortion services.[23][24][25]

Gay rights

Barber is a co-sponsor of the Respect for Marriage Act.[26] He supported the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell.[27]


Barber has called for increased border security. He supports the DREAM Act.[26]

Committee assignments[edit]

Barber served on these committees.[28]

Personal life[edit]

Ron Barber and his wife Nancy live in Tucson, Arizona; the couple has two daughters. The Barbers operate a small business.[29]


Public Domain This article incorporates public domain material from the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress website

  1. ^ a b c "Former Gabrielle Giffords aide Ron Barber wins election to finish her term". CBS News. June 13, 2012. Retrieved June 13, 2012.
  2. ^ a b Giles, Ben (December 17, 2014). "McSally defeats incumbent Barber in CD2 recount". Arizona Capitol Times. Retrieved September 21, 2020.
  3. ^ "Ron Barber aiming to replace Gabrielle Giffords in Arizona",; accessed November 15, 2014.
  4. ^ "Barber, Ron". Washington, D.C.: Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. June 20, 2012. Retrieved June 23, 2012.
  5. ^ Sanders, Rebekah L. (April 14, 2012). "Election for Giffords' seat a mercurial race". Arizona Republic. Retrieved June 13, 2012.
  6. ^ Neighbor, Megan (January 12, 2011). "Arizona shooting: Staffer displayed his devotion to Gabrielle Giffords". Arizona Republic. Retrieved June 13, 2012.
  7. ^ Myers, Amanda Lee (June 13, 2012). "Jesse Kelly 'Reflecting' after Losing to Ron Barber in Race to Replace Gabrielle Giffords". The Huffington Post. Associated Press. Retrieved June 14, 2012.
  8. ^ "Barber sworn-in to succeed Gabby Giffords.", Google News. June 19, 2012.
  9. ^ Campaign Biography
  10. ^ Taylor, Jessica (October 5, 2011). "House Democrats Gain With New Arizona Map". National Journal. Archived from the original on October 6, 2011. Retrieved October 7, 2011.
  11. ^ a b Nowicki, Dan; D'Anna, Jon. Barber wins hard-fought race against McSally. The Arizona Republic, November 17, 2012.
  12. ^ "Voters in Arizona's 2nd pick Barber over McSally.", Associated Press via KOLD-TV, November 17, 2012.
  13. ^ "Arizona's 2nd Congressional District elections, 2014". Ballotpedia. Retrieved March 19, 2014.
  14. ^ "McSally pilots easy Arizona GOP primary win to face Democratic Rep. Barber in rematch". Fox News. August 27, 2014. Retrieved August 28, 2014.
  15. ^ Schouten, Fredreka (March 14, 2014). "Latino group to run ads hitting Arizona Democrat over Obamacare". USA Today. Retrieved March 19, 2014.
  16. ^ a b Isenstadt, Alex (March 9, 2014). "Gabrielle Giffords' ad push aims to aid successor". Politico. Retrieved September 10, 2014.
  17. ^ Miller, S.A. (September 7, 2014). "Giffords' gun control group runs ad to boost Barber". Washington Times. Retrieved September 10, 2014.
  18. ^ Recount in Barber-McSally race due to 161 margin of victory for McSally Archived November 15, 2014, at the Wayback Machine,; accessed November 14, 2014.
  19. ^ Recount starts today in McSally vs. Barber race, Arizona Daily Star, December 3, 2014. Retrieved December 8, 2014.
  20. ^ Giroux, Greg (October 28, 2013). "Some Democrats Vote With Boehner Touting Independence". Bloomberg. Retrieved November 5, 2013.
  21. ^ "Obamacare and Vulnerable Democrats". The Wall Street Journal. May 20, 2013.
  22. ^ Lachman, Samantha (January 13, 2014). "Martha McSally's Bid To Flip Arizona Dem Ron Barber's House Seat Just Got A Bit Easier". Huffington Post. Retrieved March 19, 2014.
  23. ^ "Ron Barber's Voting Records on Issue: Abortion". Project Vote Smart. Retrieved March 27, 2014.
  24. ^ "On Passage: H R 7 To prohibit taxpayer funded abortions". Open Congress. Sunlight Foundation. Archived from the original on April 7, 2014. Retrieved March 27, 2014.
  25. ^ "House Vote 29 - H.R.7: On Motion to Recommit with Instructions". New York Times. Retrieved March 27, 2014.
  26. ^ a b "Phoenix Arizona Election Questionnaire for Congress, RON BARBER". Gannett. Retrieved April 25, 2014.
  27. ^ Nintzel, Jim (May 31, 2012). "CD 8 candidates Ron Barber and Jesse Kelly split on abortion, gay rights". Tucson Weekly. Retrieved March 19, 2014.
  28. ^ U.S. Rep. Ron Barber Appointed to House Armed Services Committee
  29. ^ Special Election on June 12: Ron Barber Stands with Planned Parenthood,, May 16, 2012.

External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Gabby Giffords
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Arizona's 8th congressional district

Succeeded by
Trent Franks
Preceded by
Trent Franks
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Arizona's 2nd congressional district

Succeeded by
Martha McSally