Democrat gets 'cold shoulder' in challenging Giffords for seat
August 26th, 2011
08:15 PM ET
3 years ago

Democrat gets 'cold shoulder' in challenging Giffords for seat

(CNN) - Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords could have a challenger–from the left–if she decides to run for re-election in 2012.

Elementary special education teacher Anthony Prowell is running for the seat as a Democrat in Arizona’s 8th congressional district, a surprising move against a popular incumbent who’s recovering from a gunshot wound to the head in January.

Prowell, who filed with the Federal Election Commission in late July, decided to run against what he calls the government’s ignorance of the needs of “regular” people. He said he’s tired of simply writing letters and making calls to his elected officials to get his voice heard.

“I always tell my students when we complain about something, we can’t just keep complaining,” Prowell said. “We’ve got to take steps to fix it.”

But he hasn’t gotten off to an easy start. With Giffords becoming a widely-beloved public figure after surviving a mass shooting in Tucson earlier this year, Prowell said he’s already experienced pushback.

Prowell said he got the cold shoulder when contacting leaders of the local and state Democratic parties about a potential run.

“I was totally ignored,” he said. “The only people that would ever talk to me were the people that answered the phones.”

Prowell voted for Giffords in the past and insisted he’s not running to build up a political reputation. Rather, he wants to get his message across of standing up for the “regular people” who lost work in the recession.

The 48-year-old said he’s even thinking about switching to the Green Party, so as not to be “the bad villain guy.”

“I would have run anyway,” Prowell said, when talking about Giffords’ injury. “I don’t have any political ambitions to ruin.”

With little expectations that he’ll raise large amounts of money, his volunteer campaign staff so far consists of his wife, daughter and nephew, a college freshman majoring in political science.

But some local Democrats doubt his campaign will sway many - if any - voters away from Giffords.

Calling Prowell an “unknown,” Pima County Democratic Party Chairman Jeff Rogers said his candidacy is “basically a joke.”

“There really isn’t any serious candidate that is making any sort of intentions known that they‘re going to run,” he said, adding that among local Democrats, he’s heard only one common comment about Prowell: “Who is he?”

According to Arizona’s election laws, Prowell needs about 700 signatures from registered Democrats to get his name on the ballot, another reason why Prowell may switch to the Green Party.

When contacted about the teacher’s congressional bid, Giffords’ office had no comment.

As far as the congresswoman’s 2012 intentions, press secretary Mark Kimble said Giffords is focused on her recovery right now, not politics.

“It’s not even on the radar screen at this point,” Kimball said.

But her district director Ron Barber told reporters at a Hollywood event Thursday that Giffords was fully cognitive and participating in discussions with her staff.

“We had a staff meeting with her by video the other day,” Barber said. “She’s back and will be coming back to Congress in the future.”

Giffords has until May 2012 to make a decision.

Since being gravely wounded in January, Giffords voted only once in Congress. She made her first major public appearance when she flew to Washington for a surprise visit on Aug. 1 to vote on the debt deal.


Filed under: 2012 • Arizona • Gabrielle Giffords
soundoff (27 Responses)
  1. thomas

    Anthony Prowell needs to cool his jets !

    You look like a liberal vulture with a tea bag for a heart Anthony !

    August 26, 2011 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  2. once upon a horse

    I am reminded of a statement President Obama made when addressing the problem with the so-called Ground Zero Mosque...to paraphrase him he said "just because you have the RIGHT do something doesn't always mean that it's the wise thing to do"

    August 26, 2011 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  3. Proud Member of Global Zero

    Gabby is the lady we need in the Congress. She is right where the country is.

    August 26, 2011 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  4. B

    Fake democrat secretly funded by the tea party.

    August 26, 2011 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  5. The Elephant in The Room

    If she runs does this idiot actually think he`l beat her?

    Or is he just trying to glom onto her noterity for some other purpose? Please tell me we haven`t fallen that far.

    August 26, 2011 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  6. Charlie in Maine

    Cold shoulder? How about a clenched right hook to the face? Fierts of all you are an idiot to run against a National Hero. Second and this is from a pragmatic point. If you are "to the left of Gifford" there is not a snowball's chance in Phoenix that you could get elected in AZ. What will it do for your agenda to see a tea pardiot grab the seat?

    Plus you will just look mean (mean may work for Rick Perry but you have adifferent constituency)

    August 26, 2011 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  7. Tony in Maine

    His candidacy is ill-advised, doomed from the start, politically really dumb – but it is not a joke. Having received the form letter response to my attempts to contact elected officials, I know his frustration. "Send letter #504 to this one..." That said, were I an Arizona voter, I would not vote for Prowell.

    August 26, 2011 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  8. Houffman

    Giffords is truly inspirational, but will she regain the capacity to serve as a genuine representative? What is the level of her ability to communicate, and what is anticipated in the future? Her recovery is miraculous, but is she really serving her constituents? Her present condition is not her fault, of course, but Arizona ought not to have to have a symbolic congressman in office if she will not be able to do the job.

    August 26, 2011 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  9. Randy, San Francisco

    Prowell accomplished his goal: 15 minutes of fame.

    August 26, 2011 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  10. Paul Willson

    talk about a cold blooded opertunist .

    August 26, 2011 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  11. Larry

    I feel bad for her, but I seriously doubt Giffords will ever be able to serve again. Her supporters need to accept that, move on, and replace her so they have someone to represent them.

    August 26, 2011 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  12. Dan-o

    It is sad what happened to Giffords, but she cannot effectively do her job anymore.

    August 26, 2011 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  13. Sad

    Just like the democrats. Herald you then toss you over when they don't need you anymore!

    August 26, 2011 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  14. valwayne

    Those on the extreme left in the democratic party have no sense of decency. They will take advantage of anything! This is just dispicable!

    August 26, 2011 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  15. HawHaw

    He is right, our govenment has forgotten about the regular people.

    August 27, 2011 12:21 am at 12:21 am |
  16. jane

    The challenger will not win.....Gilffords has earned the right to be in congress!!!

    August 27, 2011 01:18 am at 1:18 am |
  17. Zhon

    Run as a member of the Green Party. But you better register fast. The Green Party is taking off internationally. We will have a green in congress by 2012 or 2014 for sure, just like Sweden, Australia, Germany, Brazil etc etc etc.

    Vote Green 2012!~

    Both Parties are bought and sold by the same corporations; we need another perspective.

    August 27, 2011 01:25 am at 1:25 am |
  18. MN Vietnam Veteran

    Prowell's a bottom feeder attempting to exploit Representative Giffords' temporary situation. If he wants to run, let him do it as a Greenie (They are the folks, along with Ralph Nader's ego, that brought us eight years of the GWB presidency). The Republican Tea Party Mad Hatters would love it if he tried to throw mud at Representative Giffords in a desperate attempt to win the Democratic primary.

    August 27, 2011 04:22 am at 4:22 am |
  19. Ken in NC

    I live in NC but will support Gabby for re-election. She is a strong and brave woman and we need more like her in Congress. "GO GABBY"

    August 27, 2011 05:34 am at 5:34 am |
  20. Sonnie2

    It takes a clear head with common sense to serve in congress. I am truly sorry for gabby, she is a fine lady, but I think it is clear that she needs to step aside with dignity so as not to make a great canidate feel guilty for running for office. No one is so great that they can't be replaced with someone who may just be better

    August 27, 2011 06:49 am at 6:49 am |
  21. T'sah from Virginia

    That's a COLD move by Powell. I would feel quite creepy – Maybe he should wait for a "special election" or something after Gabi resigns if she feels she needs to resign..... Whew!!

    August 27, 2011 07:10 am at 7:10 am |
  22. Chris

    Why is Jeff Rodgers calling this man's candicy a joke?!?! If he's truly running on the merrits that he says he's running on, they why not support him? I wish Mrs. Giffords a most speedy recovery and I hope she makes a full one. Just because you were shot shouldn't solidify her as a shoe in candidate. You saw a similar argument when Sen McCain was running for POTUS. The fact that he was a POW doesn't make him the perfect person for the job or legitimize his foreign policy credintials. The party should want and encourage more envolvement by "regular" people to effect their communities in politics. When I was in high school and continuing education you would hear the same thing...."write your senator, etc" and more often than not the letter or concern goes unanswered or resolved because us "regular" people aren't important enough and the politicians don't look out for them or their best interests. Politicians remind me of corporate board members they care about the profits not the employees!

    August 27, 2011 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  23. Larry L

    It would be a mistake to assume Rep. Giffords' injury reduces her ability to function as a member of the house. True, the gunman's bullet may have reduced somewhat her ability to move or to articulate every word as quickly as before. But her kindness, common sense, and logical approach to leadership continue to make her a bright and shining star in an otherwise dark sky.

    August 27, 2011 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  24. peace

    powell u dont have a chance in hell. please sir dont quit your day job u just may be sorry if u did dont put your wife and kid in the bread line dude.

    August 27, 2011 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  25. cindy

    Mrs. Giffords has had a tough go of things to say the least. To come through a brain injury truly amazing. She has the spirit we need and if she runs for office again I would have no problem giving her my vote!!! God bless you Mrs. Gifford in ALL you choose to do!!!!

    August 27, 2011 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
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