Republican councilman breaks party lines to support Ron Barber

Republican councilman breaks party lines to support Ron Barber

CREATED Feb 10, 2012

Reporter: Marcelino Benito

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Just hours after announcing he's running for Gabrielle Giffords district 8 seat Ron Barber is getting a little help from an unlikely person. Republican Steve Kozachik is breaking party line's in support Barber's candidacy.

When he announced, Ron Barber pledged if elected, he'd cross party lines to get things done. Councilman Steve Kozachik, a republican, is doing just that to get Barber elected.

"I'm actually pleased, but not surprised by his support," Barber said. "Since I have made it known I was running, I have had calls from several members of the community who are across party lines."

Kozachik will be on Barber's steering committee. He's chosen not to support any of the GOP candidates vying for Giffords' seat.

9OYS asked Kozachik if he's concerned he's shot himself in the foot politically. "This isn't a political decision," he said. "It's what's right for the constituents in district 8.

Kozachik says voters elected Giffords to a two year term. He adds that were it not for the shooting, she'd still be in office. For that reason, Kozachik believes having Barber finish off her term just makes sense.

"This is about as nonpartisan as you can get. Just let the people continue to do Gabrielle Giffords work. Then the republicans and democrats can focus on district 2," Kozachik said.

Pima County GOP chairwoman Carolyn Cox says Kozachik is playing politics.

"Although Steve is a republican, he's quite concerned about his re-election. He' s running in a heavily democratic district, so he's doing what he needs to do for himself," Cox said. 9OYS asked if she think it's a political decision. "Oh yeah," Cox said.

So far Kozachik tells 9OYS he has received pushback from the GOP.

"I'm getting some negative calls from people who can't look beyond party politics and my message to them is get over it," Kozachik said.

It's unclear how Kozachik's comment will play in Republican circles, but Ron Barber is standing up for Kozachik calling him a "reasonable, independent voice on the council, whose recorde in office speaks for itself.

Kozachik would not say which side he'd endorse in the upcoming district 2 race. He says he hasn't given that race much thought. For now his focus is helping Ron Barber secure a win in district 8.