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 Kirkpatrick (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 Sinema (D-Ariz.) after her entrance into the race.

Friese treated Giffords, who is married to Sen. Mark Kelly (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 Biden carried it in 2020 by more than 10 points after former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton won it by just 5 points in 2016. 

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.

Tags 2022 midterms Ann Kirkpatrick Arizona 2nd District Arizona politics Gabby Giffords Hillary Clinton House races Joe Biden Kyrsten Sinema Mark Kelly Randy Friese
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