It’s official: Ron Barber, who served as the district director for former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., will run in a special election to finish her term.
But Barber is not yet saying, for sure, whether he will also run in the fall for a full term of his own.
“While there will never be anyone who can fill Congresswoman Giffords’ shoes, I look forward to continuing her legacy of putting problem-solving before politics,” Barber, 66, stated in announcing his candidacy.
“My first priority won’t be the next election – but the next generation," he continued. "That means balancing the budget the right way by protecting Social Security and Medicare, creating jobs, and securing our border.”
Barber was shot in the face and leg in the 2011 attack in which a gunman killed six and wounded 12 others, including Giffords, who was shot in the head.
Giffords resigned on Jan. 25 to focus on her physical rehabilitation.
On Tuesday National Journal reported that Barber would run in the June 12 special election. NJ also reported that multiple sources in Arizona and Washington were describing his decision – made in collaboration with Giffords and her small group of her advisors – as including an understanding that he would not seek reelection this fall to represent a newly drawn version of her Tucson-area district.
According to those sources, the agreement would allow Barber to concentrate on carrying out programs and priorities set by Giffords without worrying about raising money for reelection or campaigning. Barber is widely anticipated to be a sentimental favorite in the special election, and it is seen as likely that any other would-be candidates will step aside.
In contrast, the race this fall for the newly drawn district is expected to attract several candidates from both sides of the aisle.
Barber’s announcement on Thursday – which was to be followed by a press event in Tucson – does not elaborate beyond his plans to run in the special election. The primary for that race is April 17.
A Barber political consultant, Rodd McLeod, said on Thursday in a telephone interview that Barber hasn’t yet determined if he will run this fall as well. “He hasn’t made that decision yet,” said McLeod.