by Jim Nintzel
One of the trauma surgeons who saved Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords’ life is considering a career in politics.
Dr. Randall Friese is preparing to launch a campaign for the House of Representatives as a Democrat in Legislative District 9, which includes central Tucson and the Catalina Foothills.
Friese, an associate professor of surgery who works in the UA trauma center, was among the doctors who attended to the victims of the Jan. 8, 2011, shooting rampage at Giffords’ Congress On Your Corner event.
“He’d be a great legislator and he’s a great guy,” says Cheryl Cage, who is "very excited" to be managing Friese's campaign.
LD 9 is an anomaly in Arizona politics: It’s a competitive district where 37 percent of the voters are Democrats and 32 percent are Republicans. The House seats are currently held by Republican Ethan Orr and Democrat Victoria Steele, who are both in their freshman terms.
Orr is something of an anomaly among Republicans: He was one of the few GOP lawmakers who backed Gov. Jan Brewer’s push to expand Medicaid in the last legislative session. As a result, he has a vocal group of conservatives who want to see him driven out of office, although we have yet to see if that crowd can recruit two GOP candidates who can beat Orr in a primary.
While he has a conservative voting record on some issues, Orr has emerged as one of the most moderate Republicans at the Legislature. He worked alongside Steele to push for funding for a Mental Health First Aid program this year. And a few months ago, he helped head off a hike in the Van Tran rates for disabled Tucsonans by suggesting that the city pursue some state funding to make up for transit shortfalls.