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Surgeon who treated Gabby Giffords after shooting launches House bid in Arizona

Surgeon who treated Gabby Giffords after shooting launches House bid in Arizona
© Facebook: Randy Friese

The doctor who treated former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) after she was shot in 2011 is running to replace retiring Rep. Ann KirkpatrickAnn KirkpatrickDemocrats confront difficult prospects for midterms Surgeon who treated Gabby Giffords after shooting launches House bid in Arizona These House lawmakers aren't seeking reelection in 2022 MORE (D-Ariz.). 

Randy Friese, a trauma surgeon and Arizona state representative, announced his candidacy on Thursday, joining state Sen. Kirsten Engel in what could eventually become a crowded Democratic primary field to succeed Kirkpatrick. 

“Susan and I are VERY excited to announce that I am running for Congress in #AZ02!” Friese tweeted on Thursday morning. “The stakes of this election are too high. As a doctor, veteran, & educator I am ready to fight to help our community.”

Friese, who represents Tucson in the state House, previously weighed a Senate bid in 2018. He ultimately declined to do so, endorsing now-Sen. Kyrsten SinemaKyrsten SinemaEx-McSally aide pleads guilty to stealing over 0K in campaign funds Sinema urges Biden to take 'bold' action at border: 'This is a crisis' Bowser on Manchin's DC statehood stance: He's 'not right' MORE (D-Ariz.) after her entrance into the race.

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Friese treated Giffords, who is married to Sen. Mark KellyMark KellyEx-McSally aide pleads guilty to stealing over 0K in campaign funds Bowser on Manchin's DC statehood stance: He's 'not right' Manchin says he doesn't support DC statehood, election reform bills MORE (D-Ariz.), after she was shot in the head during a constituent meeting in Tucson in 2011. In 2014, he ousted incumbent state Rep. Ethan Orr (R) in an ultra-close race.

The race for Arizona’s 2nd Congressional District, which includes most of Tucson and the southeastern corner of the state, is expected to be hotly contested, given its history of flipping between parties. 

Still, the district has shifted toward Democrats in recent years. President BidenJoe BidenDefense lawyers for alleged Capitol rioters to get tours of U.S. Capitol Sasse to introduce legislation giving new hires signing bonuses after negative jobs report Three questions about Biden's conservation goals MORE carried it in 2020 by more than 10 points after former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonMcConnell: Taliban could take over Afghanistan by 'the end of the year' Hillary Clinton: There must be a 'global reckoning' with disinformation Pelosi's archbishop calls for Communion to be withheld from public figures supporting abortion rights MORE won it by just 5 points in 2016. 

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Kirkpatrick flipped the district blue in 2018, defeating Republican Lea Marquez Peterson by about 9 points. She won reelection last year by a 10-point margin. 

Kirkpatrick announced earlier this month that she would not seek reelection in 2022, noting in a statement that she has been on the ballot in Arizona every two years for 18 years. Republicans have vowed to target her district in their effort to recapture control of the House next year.

The GOP needs to gain only five seats in the lower chamber to win back the House, giving Democrats little room for error as they look to preserve their narrow majorities in Congress.