Politico on CD8: "Giffords Has Built a Political Fortress"

Politico looks at Southern Arizona's Congressional District 8:

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords has built a political fortress here in this southwestern swing district that shares a rugged, sparsely populated 114-mile border with Mexico.

The Arizona Democrat's $1.9 million war chest is more than twice the size of that of any other House candidate in the state and her politics are perfectly calibrated for the seat. Giffords talks tough on the pervasive issue of border security — harshly enough to rankle some Hispanic Democrats — and she has used her post to address local needs, from securing a $6.4 million earmark in a recent military construction spending bill to build the Pentagon a special operations parachute-training facility in Marana to bringing House Homeland Security Chairman Bennie Thompson to the district to meet with local ranchers after one of their own was killed in March by what everyone here presumes was a drug smuggler.

But in a tumultuous political year — and one in which incumbency and parochialism have become double-edged swords — Republicans here are convinced none of it will be enough to save Giffords' political skin.

In short, the 8th District — a vast expanse that stretches south and east from Tucson, through Sierra Vista and Tombstone, all the way to a corner border with Mexico and New Mexico — provides an ideal test case to understand the degree to which national political forces might sweep aside even a polished incumbent who has steeled herself for the onslaught by paying close attention to state and local matters.

"She's done everything she needs to do. If she loses, it would be one of those cases where it doesn't matter how much you spent, it doesn't matter what you do," said Rodolfo Espino, a political science professor at Arizona State University.

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