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Ron Barber, Gabrielle Giffords Aide, Likely To Run For Congress

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This week, a top aide to former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) is expected to enter the special election to succeed her.

Ron Barber, Giffords' district director, was wounded in the January 2011 shooting at the Tucson supermarket that wounded Giffords and 10 others, and killed six. Now, Barber will announce this week his bid to fill the remaining months of her term representing parts of southern Arizona, according to Tucson Weekly.

"I would be shocked if we didn't hear an announcement soon that Barber is running for the interim position and that Team Giffords doesn't endorse him in that run," Jeff Rogers, chairman of the Pima County Democratic Party, told Tucson Weekly.

But Barber, 66, is not likely to run for the new Congressional District 2 later this year, the paper reported.

Giffords' January resignation set up two contests in the Tucson area district, with an April 17 primary and June 12 special election to serve through January and then an August primary and November election for a two-year term in a newly drawn district. The special election will occur under the old district lines.

Barber's decision to enter the special election will reshape the contest.

On the Democratic side, state Rep. Matt Heinz is currently the only declared candidate running for the seat, with state Sen. Paula Aboud, state Rep. Steve Farley and businesswomen Nan Walden and Lisa Lovallo all considered potential candidates. When Heinz announced his candidacy last week, he told HuffPost that he would drop his bid for the special election and focus only on the full term if Barber entered the contest.

On the Republican side, state Sen. Frank Antenori, 2010 candidate for the seat Jesse Kelly and businessman Dave Sitton have officially declared their candidacies for the special election. The Republican contenders have not indicated if Barber's candidacy would change their plans.

Barber was shot twice in the assassination attempt of Giffords, which occurred as she conducted a citizen outreach event at a Tucson supermarket. In an interview last month with the Arizona Republic, Barber said he has been in physical therapy and coping with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder since the shooting. He had returned to work at Giffords' district office and was at the former congresswoman's side when she made her final public appearance in Arizona before her resignation last month.

The race to replace Giffords is shaping up to be one of four competitive congressional races in Arizona this year. In the state’s first district, former U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Ariz.) is facing off against former state Sen. Jon Patton. In the sixth district, which includes overlapping territory after redistricting measures, Reps. Ben Quayle and David Schweikert will face each other in a Republican primary. In the state’s new ninth district, a three-way competitive Democratic primary is shaping up between former state Democratic Chairman Andrei Cherny, state Senate Minority Leader David Schapira and former state Sen. Krysten Sinema.

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