Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords resigned from her seat in Congress last week in an emotional farewell speech read on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives.
State Representative Matt Heinz, an openly gay Tucson Democrat, announced yesterday that he wants to be Giffords' replacement.
"It is with deep respect for Congresswoman Giffords and her work that I humbly submit my candidacy to the people of southern Arizona," Heinz says in a statement. "Gabby has come so far in her recovery, and I wish her continued healing. Gabby put southern Arizona before party or ideology and that legacy must be continued."
Heinz has served in the Legislature since 2009. In addition to his gig in the state House of Representatives, Heinz is a doctor at the Tucson Medical Center.
"I will use my skills as a doctor and legislator to solve problems and help create jobs in this difficult economy," Heinz continues. "Working with both parties, we must rebuild our infrastructure, lower health care costs, create new sources of energy and support education to accelerate the economy in southern Arizona."
Heinz is the first person to jump into the race for the empty seat.
With Giffords gone, Governor Jan Brewer announced that a special election will be held on June 12, to determine who will finish the remainder of her term. Giffords' former district director, Ron Barber, who was shot twice during the Tucson shooting that left six dead and 13 injured -- including Giffords -- is another potential Democratic candidate in the special election.
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Heinz, however, says he plans to run for a full term in the fall, and would drop out of the special election if Barber runs.
"I would be very supportive of (Barber) and in fact I would even direct my staff to gather signatures for him in the special election, at which point I would divert my focus to the Aug. 30 primary," Heinz tells LGBTQNation.
Heinz is in the final year of his term, so he wouldn't have to resign from his job in the state Legislature to run for Giffords' seat under Arizona's "resign to run" law.