A Republican state senator in Arizona on Tuesday said he is exploring a run for the congressional seat now held by Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.).
But despite his interest in pursuing the seat, state Sen. Frank Antenori (R) said he is unlikely to challenge Giffords if she decides to seek reelection.
“I really hope for the best for [Giffords],” Antenori told Tucson’s Fox News affiliate.
“If she is able to run and vigorously represent the district, in all likelihood, I will probably opt out and continue to serve in the legislature," he said.
Giffords is still recovering from the gunshot wound she suffered during an attack in January at a meet-and-greet event outside a Safeway store. She made a dramatic return to the Capitol in early August to vote for the debt-ceiling compromise.
Giffords has not yet announced whether she will seek reelection, and Antenori said he understands the congresswoman's need for time.
“I don’t expect her to have to make [a decision], but you know, waiting until May ... I don’t think the people of Southern Arizona want to wait until May to find out who’s going to be representing them in Washington,” he said.
Even if Giffords is able to run for office, Antenori might have an opportunity to seek another congressional seat. Arizona is going through a major redistricting shakeup that could potentially give both Anenori and Giffords a place to run.
Antenori mentioned this consideration in a June post on his campaign website.
“There are a lot of questions that need to be answered and a big decision to be made,” he wrote at the time. “Arizona is gaining a new Congressional District; how will it affect the boundaries of our existing eight districts? What kind of support can I expect? Can we assemble a dedicated team of volunteers? Can we raise the money necessary to win?”
Some Democrats are still holding out hope that Giffords will run for the Senate seat being vacated by retiring Sen. John Kyl (R-Ariz.), although most think this is unlikely. If she were to run for that seat, Antenori could then get the chance to run for her House seat.