After a narrow loss to former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in 2010, Jesse Kelly is confident he still has enough pull to defeat the three Republican opponents in the Special Primary Election that is just under a week away.
Despite questions about comments made by his Republican opponents, Kelly stressed that now, and if he is successful enough to move on to the General Election, he is all about the issues facing this country.
After losing to Giffords in 2010, Kelly said he resumed working with his father’s company, and had been in Texas where he had been managing various construction projects. But, when Giffords opted to resign in January, he felt it was important to continue what he started two years ago.
“We have so much to do,” he said. “I have a great life, a great job and no overwhelming desire to be a politician. But, I can’t just tell my boys that I didn’t do anything about all of the problems we have. I have to do something.”
Kelly admits the Republican candidates have a good problem in the primary, in that they are all strong in their own way.
“We are all good candidates,” he said. “We talk about the issues, lower gas prices, the economy, and we think we’ll be successful in the general.”
Kelly faces a tough race on Tuesday, April 17 against Arizona Sen. Frank Antenori, Dave Sitton and Martha McSally.
Despite some criticism coming from the Antenori campaign, Kelly said it’s important that he stay on message and not be reduced to responding to the attacks.
“We’re just going to keep talking about the issues,” he said. “People have had enough of Republicans dragging each other through the mud.”
The candidate who wins on Tuesday will move on to face a tough challenge in beating Democrat Ron Barber, who is running unopposed in the primary. Barber is the former aide of Giffords, who was also shot along with the former Congresswoman during a public event on Jan. 8, 2011.
Even though Barber is running, Kelly said he feels he will be successful this time around.
“The Democrats felt he was the only one who could possibly beat our campaign, and he can’t,” Kelly said. “We are never going to make this campaign about going after anyone, it’s going to be about the issues.”
The issues are simple, according to Kelly, and all of them center around the economy and how it continues to drag along since the 2008 recession.
“The economy is everything,” he said. “We need to protect our seniors. We can’t do it unless we get the economy back. We need to protect our border. We can’t do that until we get the economy back on track.”
Kelly said corporate taxes must be decreased, more drilling is needed in the United States and more jobs need to be created here rather than being shipped overseas.
Kelly said Congress’ job is to keep President Barack Obama in check, and with $4 gas prices, and a high unemployment rate, plenty of changes have to be made moving forward.
In a perfect world, Kelly said not only will he be headed to Washington to represent Arizona, but Republican Mitt Romney will also take over the presidency in the November election.