Arizona state Rep. Matt Heinz (D) is running to replace former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D) in the 8th district special election, a spokeswoman confirmed to Roll Call.
“It is with deep respect for Congresswoman Giffords and her work that I humbly submit my candidacy to the people of southern Arizona,” Heinz said in a written 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 is the first Democrat to officially enter the race. Before today, Democrats had been publicly reluctant to enter the race compared with the Republican field.
Republicans have been much more overt in establishing campaigns. Roll Call reported last week that veteran Jesse Kelly is running. State Sen. Frank Antenori announced his candidacy Friday. College sports TV broadcaster Dave Sitton is holding a fundraiser Thursday even though he hasn't officially entered the race.
All candidates have until Feb. 27 to file and collect signatures on a petition in order to get on the special election ballot.
The number of signatures is dependent on party voter registration totals in the district. A Democratic candidate will need about 670 signatures and a Republican candidate will need about 780 signatures to get on the ballot.
The winner of the special election will face re-election in the fall in the redrawn 2nd district, which closely resembles the 8th district.