by Jim Nintzel
Politico looks at Jesse Kelly's campaign in the GOP primary that will decide the nominee who will face Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords:
No one will ever accuse Jesse Kelly of bringing weak tea to the party.
The conservative 29-year-old Marine combat veteran and tea party favorite made waves this week when a video of him criticizing Sarah Palin's endorsements of "people who will sell our principles down the river" surfaced and caused a stir.
The brief moment of national notoriety notwithstanding, Kelly is surging at the end of the 8th District GOP primary campaign here, largely on the strength of an impressive grassroots organization and a cocky, free-wheeling style that contrasts sharply with that of the more measured, more disciplined former state Sen. Jonathan Paton.
"I'm expecting a pretty sound victory ... I'm not expecting to squeak by. I'm expecting it to be a mandate," Kelly told POLITICO in an interview over lunch at a P.F. Chang's restaurant here. "Someone forgot to tell the conservatives in District 8 that we had no chance in this race."
If Kelly's right, he'll win the chance next Tuesday to take on Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in November, providing yet another proving ground for conservative activists to show that their candidates can win in politically competitive seats.
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