Congressman Jeff Flake was holding his own version of Congress on Your Corner in Mesa, Arizona, when shots rang out at U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' public meet-and-greet on January 8, 2011.

As soon as he heard on the radio what had happened, Flake says, he got in his car and came to Tucson.

Flake is a Republican, but he says that on that tragic day, the politics stopped mattering.

In the days that followed, Flake remained in Tucson and attended FBI briefings on the shooting and its aftermath. But he says it was his time at the hospital with the friends and families of shooting victims that he recalls most vividly.

The tragedy brought out the best in the community, Flake says.

“It was just wonderful to see the outpouring of love and support and concern … it was just a special time in the state, I think,” he says.

Flake is helping to push one of Giffords’ bills through Congress right now. He is also not shying away from the public. He is running for U.S. Senate--for a seat some thought a year ago Giffords would run for herself.