February 9th, 2012
09:40 PM ET
10 years ago

Injured Giffords aide running for now-vacant Congressional seat

(CNN) - Ron Barber, an aide to former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, will run for the Arizona Congressional seat left empty when Giffords resigned from Congress last month.

Barber, a Democrat, was wounded in the January 2011 shooting that left Giffords with a severe head wound. She has been undergoing intensive rehabilitation since, and announced in January she would resign from Congress to focus on her recovery.

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"Our community needs someone who will put politics aside and solve problems for the people of Southern Arizona," Barber said in a statement. "My commitment is to be honest with the people of this district and help restore civility to our public life."

In an interview Thursday on CNN's "Piers Morgan Tonight," Barber said Giffords asked him personally to run for her seat.

"The decision really started when Congresswoman Giffords looked right at me and said, 'Ron, will you run?' I told her it was a decision I have to think a lot about, a lot of considerations," Barber said "My family. My own well being in terms of doing this and whether it was right for the district. I've never said no to her in my life, working together five years. But I went away from the conversation and gave it considerable thought, finally I was able to say to her, 'Congresswoman, I will do that. And I'll be proud to run for the seat that you have vacated.'"

Barber served as Giffords' district director during her tenure in Congress. He remained in his role after the shooting, despite his injuries.

In an email to supporters Thursday, Giffords' husband Mark Kelly said he and his wife support Barber in his bid.

"Gabby and I are honored to stand with Ron as he launches his campaign," Kelly wrote. "We have set a goal of helping him get 1,000 donors before Monday to get his campaign off the ground quickly."

Arizona will hold a special election in June to fill the empty seat in Arizona's 8th District. A primary election will take place in April to determine candidates for the Democratic and Republican parties.

One Democrat, Matt Heinz, jumped into the race earlier this month, but told an Arizona newspaper he would drop his bid if Barber announced a run.

Republican Jesse Kelly, who ran against Giffords in 2010, said he was running for the seat last week.

On CNN Thursday, Barber relayed a piece of advice he got from Giffords about life in politics.

"The advice that she's given me is advice that I have gotten from her over the last five years. We always should take the high road," Barber said. "We should always try to find a way to come together and solve problems. She's run and been successful on a very straightforward approach. Let's find common sense solutions to the problems that face America. Let's stop talking about it. Let's stop bickering about it. Let's get gown to solutions."

CNN's Deirdre Walsh contributed to this report.

Filed under: Arizona • Gabrielle Giffords
soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. Rudy NYC

    Why are Republicans even running a candidate? The seat will be up for re-election come November.

    February 9, 2012 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  2. cali girl

    My best wishes to Mr. Barber, go get em. I hope that Gabrielle is getting better too.

    February 9, 2012 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  3. HenryB

    The same guy that lost to Giffords is running again. Jessie Kelly ran one of the most mean spirited campaigns ever and still lost. I feel sorry for Mr. Barber for going up against this man. Republicans have no shame, none.

    February 9, 2012 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  4. Truth and Nothing But the Truth

    Another seat that will be in the Republican column! Democrats in Arizona need not apply....

    February 9, 2012 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  5. Marry

    Let’s hope the people have some sense. Mr. Barber will look after them and serve them in the same spirit that made Gabby a real exception in these crazy times and a hero!

    February 9, 2012 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  6. Straight Shooter

    Truth and Nothing But the Truth – Are you the only voter in Arizona, or did they all just give you their proxy?

    February 9, 2012 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |