State representative Matt Heinz of Tucson has become the first Democrat to officially announce his candidacy for the Congressional seat vacated by Gabrielle Giffords.
Heinz said he will be running in both the special election and the November general election. Touting his experience problem solving and creating consensus across party lines in the Legislature and as a doctor at the Tucson Medical Center, Heinz said he’s the best person to fill Giffords’ position. Heinz has served four years over two terms in the state legislature.
“I’ve been thinking a lot about how we can move forward and how we can best honor Gabby’s strength, conviction and leadership,” Heinz said Tuesday morning. “One of the best ways we can do that is by moving quickly and making sure that, in this very short time frame, we get somebody in there to fill that vacancy that is going to carry forward her tradition of common sense, moderate, consensus-building and problem solving.”
Many are expecting Giffords to endorse a candidate but she has yet to do that. Heinz has notified Giffords’ husband, Mark Kelly, and her team that he’s going to run and said that he would be honored to earn the endorsement. But, Heinz said he has no knowledge of her plans. He chose not to wait on her decision due to the looming deadlines in this unique special election.
“With such a compressed time frame, there just isn’t any time to delay,” Heinz said.
Giffords’ announcement on Jan. 22 that she would resign triggered the special election. She chose to step down to focus on her recovery from being shot in the head in an assassination attempt on Jan. 8, 2011, in Tucson.
The special election primary is April 17, and the general election is June 12.
In the Republican primary, state Sen. Frank Antenori has officially announced his campaign and Jesse Kelly, who lost to Giffords in 2010, is expected to announce this week.
Heinz foresees the economy and health care as two of the most vital issues in the upcoming race.
In the general election, Heinz confirmed he will run in what’s now called Congressional District 2. Many of the voters in what is now Congressional District 8 will see two rounds of primary and general elections this year. The special election will be in the existing district of CD8, in which Republicans have an advantage in registered voters. The regular election will be in the new district lines of what's now called CD2, where the gap between Democrats and Republicans is minimal. That means two different campaign-finance reports and potentially two different campaign strategies.
The primary for the new congressional district will occur in August, with the general election in November.
While he’s committed to all four elections, Heinz said that if Ron Barber, Giffords’ longtime district director, chooses to fill her seat for the rest of the term, he would modify his plans and run only in the general election.
Heinz does not plan to resign from the state Legislature. Because he is in the final year of his term, he does not have to resign from the Legislature to run for the Congress.
Heinz was born and raised in Midland, Mich. His mother is a daughter of a Lebanese immigrant and his father is of German descent. After graduating from the Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit, Heinz moved to Tucson in 2003 to join the University of Arizona’s Internal Medicine Residency Program.
He settled here and is a doctor at Tucson Medical Center.
Contact reporter Brady McCombs at 573-4213 or email@example.com