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Will appearances by Gabrielle Giffords save Arizona seat for Dems?

Gabrielle Gifford is helping the former director of her district office, Democrat Ron Barber, in his race to fill her Arizona seat in Congress. His Republican opponent is Jesse Kelly.

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Mark Kelly, from left, former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, Ron Barber and Nancy Barber gather during a get-out-the-vote rally in Tucson, Ariz., Saturday, June 9, 2012. Voters are deciding in Tuesday’s special election whether Republican Jesse Kelly or Democrat Ron Barber will complete the remainder of Giffords's term.

(AP Photo/Arizona Daily Star, Mamta Popat)

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Democrats are hoping that late campaign appearances by former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords will help push her hand-picked successor to victory in a special congressional election in Arizona.

Republicans, trying to make the southern Arizona House race a referendum on President Barack Obama and his handling of the economy, are running a former Marine who narrowly lost to Giffords two years ago.

The Arizona race is just one of the election battles taking place across the nation Tuesday. Voters in Virginia, Maine, Nevada, North Dakota and South Carolina are taking part in primary elections.

IN PICTURES: Gabrielle Giffords, political survivor

Giffords, 42, resigned in January to focus on her recovery from a gunshot wound to her head during a gunman's shooting spree a year earlier. Six people died and 13 were wounded at a constituent event she was hosting outside a Tucson supermarket.

She has made few public appearances since the shooting but has returned to Tucson in recent days to help the former director of her district office, Ron Barber, in his race to succeed her in the House. His Republican opponent is Jesse Kelly.

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