Ex-Giffords challenger to run for her seat

The Republican who almost unseated Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) in 2010 will run again for the seat left open by her impending resignation.

Jesse Kelly, a former Marine sergeant and businessman, filed a statement of candidacy with the Federal Election Commission on Tuesday. A Republican source in Arizona confirmed that Kelly is planning to run for the seat.

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Kelly spokesman John Ellinwood declined to comment on whether he had made a decision, but said Kelly would be making an announcement shortly. Kelly had left his campaign committee open since losing to Giffords in 2010.

Kelly won the GOP nomination in 2010 with the support of the Tea Party movement, painting Giffords as too liberal for the district and criticizing her opposition to Arizona's tough immigration law and her support for President Obama's healthcare legislation. Giffords defeated him in the general election by about 4,000 votes — or less than 2 percentage points.

Other potential candidates have made their interest in the seat known, but Kelly is the first to file a statement of candidacy with the FEC as the special election to replace Giffords begins to take shape.

Giffords announced in a video message to constituents on Sunday that she would step down this week, slightly more than one year after being critically wounded in a shooting rampage in Tucson, Ariz. Giffords said she would resign to focus full-time on her recovery, but vowed to return in the future to serve Arizona.

As one of her last acts as a member of Congress, Giffords will attend Tuesday's State of the Union address, seated between two of her Arizona colleagues: Democratic Rep. Raúl Grijalva and Republican Rep. Jeff Flake.

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