by Jim Nintzel
State Rep. Matt Heinz tells The Range he is officially entering the special election to complete the term of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in Congressional District 8, as well as the regular election to represent Congressional District 2 later this year.
“Southern Arizona needs representation and we have a very short timeframe to get somebody like Gabby back in there to represent us in DC,” said Heinz, who has no plans to resign from his seat in the Arizona House of Representatives. “I think with my record of moderate, bi-partisan, consensus building and my background as a physician, I’m the best candidate to do it.”
Heinz, who has sent off his paperwork to the Federal Elections Commission, is the first Democrat to announce plans to run in the special election to replace Giffords, who resigned last week to concentrate on her rehabilitation from a gunshot wound to the head on Jan. 8, 2011.
But Heinz, who said he has no plans to resign from his state House of Representatives seat at this time, says that he would give up seeking to complete Giffords’ term and focus on the regular election for the new Congressional District 2 later this year if Ron Barber, who was Giffords’ district director and close confidant, gets into the race.
“I can think of no better person than Ron Barber to complete Gabby’s term,” Heinz said. “I’d start circulating petitions for him.”
Barber’s name continues to circulate as a likely candidate who would receive Giffords’ endorsement in the special election.
Barber, who was shot twice on Jan. 8, is still dealing with a damaged left leg that remains numb below the knee as a result of his gunshot wound. If he were to get into the race, it’s unlikely that he would seek to serve in the new CD2 next year.
Voters in Congressional District 8 will go to the polls on Tuesday, April 17, for the partisan primary election and on Tuesday, June 12, for the special general election.
Candidates for the special congressional election have until Feb. 27 to deliver their nominating petitions.
Later this year, most of what is now Congressional District 8 will become Congressional District 2, which will be a slightly more Democratic district.
Meanwhile, the other potential candidates are still waiting to see what Team Giffords decides to do. Among the potential candidates: State Sen. Paula Aboud; state Rep. Steve Farley; Nan Stockholm Walden, a former D.C. operative and attorney who owns the pecan groves near Sahuarita; and Lisa Lovallo, vice president and system manager for Cox Communications’ Southern Arizona operation.
Lovallo, who did not return a phone call from The Range, appears to be one of the most unlikely candidates in a Democratic primary—mostly because, when we checked yesterday, she was still registered as a Republican.
On the Republican side, state Sen. Frank Antenori announced last week that he was seeking the seat in the special election and the regular election. Jesse Kelly, who narrowly lost to Giffords in 2010, is expected to formally announce his candidacy soon. Dave Sitton, a UA sports broadcaster, has not made his plans known.