Arizona lawmaker who replaced Giffords in state Senate to run for her House seat

The state lawmaker who replaced former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) in the Arizona Legislature will launch a bid for Giffords's seat in the fall.

Democrat Paula Aboud was appointed to the Arizona state Senate in 2006 when Giffords resigned to run for the U.S. House, and was later elected to the seat in her own right. She serves as the minority whip.

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Aboud, an educator and property manager, will announce her plans to run for the House on Monday in a tele-town hall with supporters, The Hill has learned. Aboud won't be running to replace Giffords directly, but in the race for the new term that starts when Giffords would have been up for reelection.

When Giffords stepped down from the House in January to focus on her recovery from an assassination attempt one year earlier, it triggered two full election cycles before the end of the year. The first is an April primary and a June special election to pick a candidate to finish Giffords's term. Those contests will be followed by another primary in August and a general election in November for the full term that starts in January 2013.

In between those two elections, the new congressional map kicks in and the district numbers change.

Aboud had been discussed as a possible candidate to finish Giffords's term, but that prospect was dampened last week when Giffords's former district director, Ron Barber, entered the race. Barber, who was shot twice in the shooting spree that also injured Giffords, has been endorsed by Giffords, her husband and other Arizona Democrats. 

Even one local Republican — Tucson City Councilman Steve Kozachik — has endorsed Barber, the Arizona Daily Star reported.

Democrat Matt Heinz, a physician, dropped out of the race and endorsed Barber as soon as he announced he would run. But Heinz is expected to run for the seat in the general election if Barber decides against pursuing a full term in the House.

That could lead to an interesting primary in August; both Heinz and Aboud are openly gay Democrats who have served together in the Legislature.

Barber told reporters on Thursday that it was too early to decide whether he would run again in the fall, but that he would be making a decision in the near future.

- This post was updated at 3:52 p.m.

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