Arizona Democrat considering Senate run in absence of Rep. Giffords

Arizona Rep. Ed Pastor (D) said he's considering entering the Arizona Senate race, but is waiting to see whether Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D) recovers to mount a bid.

Giffords was considered the Democrats' best hope for picking up the seat being vacated by Sen. Jon Kyl (R), who announced his retirement last month. She remains in a Houston hospital where she is recovering from a January gunshot wound to the head.

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Back in Arizona, Republicans are expected to have a competitive primary field, which already includes Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.). But Pastor is one of only a few Democrats willing to test the waters so far.

"I'm looking at it," he told The Ballot Box on Wednesday. "I haven't dismissed it."

One factor Pastor said he's weighing is whether Giffords is capable of running for the seat.

"That's one of the things that you look at, how she's doing," said Pastor, who was first elected to the House in 1991. "You look at a multiple number of things."

The Democrat said he hadn't yet spoken to Sen. Patty Murray (Wash.), who heads the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

"Family, friends, supporters — you go through that kind of litany of people who have a very important role in your life and then you go to that next step, which would be talking to Murray," he said. "We haven't taken the second step."

Pastor, who reported having more than a $1 million in his House campaign account at the start of the year, said he's been raising money for a possible run and gauging the level of support he'd have from his backers.

"We'll just keep doing it," he said.