Ron Barber is going to Congress.
The 66-year-old Democrat won Tuesday's special election for the seven months remaining in the current term in Southern Arizona's Congressional District 8 with 52.0 percent of the vote. Barber had 103,316 votes to 90,305, representing 45.4 percent, for Republican and Tea Party favorite Jesse Kelly.
The race was not as close as many had anticipated. Barber took the lead almost from the first returns, with the counting of early mail-in ballots, and he never relinquished it.
Andrea Kelly discusses the election in this Arizona Illustrated analysis:
Turnout was unusually large for a special election, at 48.0 percent of the district's 414,494 registered voters. A plurality are Republican.
In victory, Barber praised his predecessor and former boss, Gabrielle Giffords. Giffords held the seat for five years before resigning in January to focus on recovery from a gunshot wound to the head, suffered at a congressional constituent event on Jan. 8, 2011.
Barber was Giffords' district office manager, and he was seriously wounded in the shooting, too. His wounds were in the torso and leg. Six people were killed and 11 others wounded in the shooting outside a Safeway grocery store on Tucson's northwest side
Barber, a longtime Tucsonan who was a social worker for the state before going to work for Giffords, will be sworn in at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Monday. His term will run until January 2013.
He has said he will seek a full term in the newly drawn Congressional District 2 in southeastern Arizona come fall. The primary election will be Aug. 28, and already several candidates have announced, including Democratic state Rep. Matt Heinz.
Final unofficial totals for the Tuesday election can be seen on the Arizona secretary of state's website.