Democratic Rep. Ron Barber first won passage of an amendment during the House Armed Services Committee's mark-up of its 2015 National Defense Authorization Act that would block Air Force plans to retire the venerable A-10 fleet. Weeks later, he was a co-sponsor of an amendment on the House floor to the 2015 defense appropriations bill that would prohibit the service from spending any funds to retire the planes. ()
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WASHINGTON — An Arizona congressman who has led the fight on Capitol Hill to block plans to retire the A-10 attack plane is touting his victories here in a new campaign ad back home.
Democratic Rep. Ron Barber first won passage of an amendment during the House Armed Services Committee’s mark-up of its 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would block Air Force plans to retire the venerable A-10 fleet. Weeks later, he was a co-sponsor of an amendment on the House floor to the 2015 defense appropriations bill that would prohibit the service from spending any funds to retire the planes.
Barber is running neck-and-neck with his GOP challenger, Martha McSally, in the Nov. 4 election. Real Clear Politics lists the race as a “toss up.”
As the midterm election cycle kicks into high gear, Barber is using his A-10 advocacy in a new television ad.
The 30-second ad, paid for by Barber’s campaign, is narrated by Maureen Phillips, who says she “worked as a tactical intelligence officer in support of A-10 missions.”
Phillips calls the attack-plane fleet, which the Air Force says is old and expensive to maintain, “irreplaceable.” She also says in the ad that “it saves lives,” something no one involved in the retirement debate disputes.
Then she turns her focus toward the 2nd Congressional District’s incumbent.
“No one has worked harder to save the A-10 aircraft than Ron Barber,” Phillips says in the ad. “He immediately said this is not about Republican or Democrat. He’s taken on his own party and worked across the aisle to save the A-10. Ron Barber does what’s right for southern Arizona.”
Nearly 100 A-10s are based at Arizona’s Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, which is part of Barber’s district.
McSally knows the A-10 well. She was a longtime A-10 pilot and squadron commander during her Air Force tenure, which she touts on her campaign’s website.
“I served our country in uniform for 26 years, starting off at the Air Force Academy and retiring as a full Colonel,” McSally’s campaign bio states. “I was taught, served, and commanded my A-10 Fighter Squadron with the three core values of: integrity first, service before self, and excellence in all we do. These values are sorely lacking in Congress these days.”
Retiring the A-10 would save around $3.5 billion over five years, Air Force and Pentagon officials say.
Arizona Public Media earlier this year called Davis-Monthan a “large economic engine” for southern Arizona, reporting its economic impact on the area is about $1 billion. ■