The day before the tragic shooting of Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, the Republican she defeated in November sent invitations to an event announcing his intention to pursue a rematch against her in 2012.
“We have unfinished business here in southern Arizona. It’s time to finish what we started,” the e-mail flier to top donors in Tucson, Ariz., read. “I am running for Congress again, and I am asking you to join me. Early contributions will allow us to focus for two years on unseating Gabrielle Giffords!”
After the shooting, Jesse Kelly immediately canceled the reception at Skyline Country Club. But the extreme sensitivities surrounding any discussion about politics in the wake of the tragedy have left his campaign in limbo, freezing what was likely to be one of the more competitive contests of the election cycle.
Kelly, who lost by roughly 4,000 votes last year, declined comment. But within Arizona political circles, as the shock and grief of the Jan. 8 shootings begin to dissipate, the status of Kelly’s bid — and when and how he might re-engage appropriately — is a topic of no small amount of interest.
Kelly has gone ahead with other arrangements he’d made to remain in the public eye in the Tucson-based 8th District — including appearing in an ad campaign for his new employer, the nonprofit religious group Vision360, that aired on conservative radio for two weeks in January.
“I’m Jesse Kelly,” he says at the ad’s conclusion, after an announcement promoting Religious Freedom Day, observed Jan. 16.
Soon, he’ll start hosting Spotlight Arizona, a show sponsored by Vision360, on a Tucson talk radio station.
Read the whole thing here.
It appears that Kelly has left behind his job in the family construction business to become a full-time politician.
That's a big change for a guy who issued this boast in our first conversation with him: "I’m not a politician, period."