Republican state Sen. Frank Antenori announced his candidacy Friday in the special election to fill Gabrielle Giffords' former seat on Congressional District 8.
Antenori made his announcement to members of the Republican Club of Green Valley and Sahuarita, saying he has been part of balancing Arizona’s budget, and he would focus on doing the same in Washington.
“There’s no doubt the financial situation in this country is the biggest issue," Antenori said. "It’s the biggest threat to this country since the Nazis of World War II. If we don’t get this under control it will bring this country down.”
After the special election to fill Giffords’ vacancy, Antenori said he also will run in the subsequent regular election in the fall for the next congressional term.
The fall race will be for the new Congressional District 2, which includes many of the current District 8 residents, with the exception of some Oro Valley and Marana residents, who will now be in the newly drawn Congressional District 1.
“It’s going to be a long haul. This is an unprecedented situation, running for two congressional seats at the same time,” Antenori said. “We will have four elections in less than a year. It is going to be tiring, it’s going to be tough, but I’m there. I’m going to fight.”
He doesn’t have to resign from his state Senate seat while he runs for Congress, because he is in the last year of his term. But he said he probably will resign once the state budget is put together. The complicated nature of having four elections in one year isn’t lost on the candidates or the parties.
“There’s going to be a lot of confusion,” said Bruce Ash, a Republican national committeeman from Tucson. “The confusion should be tamped down by the recorder’s office, by the parties as well doing our part to make sure confusion is at a minimum."
The race also comes in a year when Arizona has a high-profile race for an open U.S. Senate seat, and it is already gaining national attention.
“They rushed a person out from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which we call the DCCC, and that person has met with me and several other people to get biographical sketches of all of the potential candidates,” said Jeff Rogers, chairman of the Pima County Democratic Party.
“ Just like the Republican National Committee, the Democratic National Committee when they come in here in this election cycle, they’re going to spend a lot of money to try to hold onto this seat, and the Republicans are going to spend a lot of money to try to get the seat,” Rogers said.
Others are likely to enter the special election race soon.
Jesse Kelly, the Republican who lost to Giffords in 2010, is considering running again, and that an announcement could come next week, a Kelly spokesman said.
Broadcaster Dave Sitton, also a Republican, had an exploratory committee open for the fall race, and Republican Adam Hansen of Sierra Vista was planning to run in the fall.
On the Democratic side, potential candidates include Southern Arizona businesswoman Nan Walden, state Sen. Paula Aboud and state Reps. Matt Heinz and Steve Farley. Farley has said he will run only if Giffords asks and endorses him.