Jesse Kelly has failed twice to capture Arizona's 8th district for Republicans.
But a statement from NRCC Chairman Pete Sessions (Texas) indicated that Republicans aren’t ready to write off southern Arizona.
Sessions criticized Barber for doing “his best to conceal his support” for President Barack Obama.
“Barber will not have that advantage in November when he will be on the ballot with President Obama, nor will any of his House Democrat colleagues,” Sessions said.
Democrats, however, expressed confidence. Party operatives have hinted that the toughest race for Barber was the special election. They expect him to be a strong candidate this fall as their nominee in the 2nd district.
But McSally suggested she would be a stronger opponent than Kelly and countered that her race “will be different from what we just saw.”
She stressed her personal authenticity and took a veiled jab at Kelly in saying she would not communicate to voters in “sound bites.”
“I think it is winnable,” she added.
The question is whether the GOP can clear the field so that McSally or Kelly can start building a general election campaign — and if Kelly has the fire in the belly to run.
“I just think he needs a few days to let it sink in and see what his future will be,” McSally said.