Ron Barber may be on the verge of announcing his Democratic candidacy for the special election in Congressional District 8, with former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' endorsement, Pima County's Democratic Party chair said Monday.
"I would be shocked if we don't hear within the next couple of days that Ron Barber is running and that the Giffords campaign is supporting him," county Democratic Party Chairman Jeff Rogers said.
Rogers' comment firmed up several media outlets' reports Monday that Barber, who is Giffords' district office director, has met with advisers and is working out issues to allow him to run.
Barber and Mark Kelly, Giffords' husband, did not respond to messages left with them Monday for comment.
Barber, like Giffords, suffered life-threatening injuries in the shooting at the then-congresswoman's Jan. 8, 2011 Congress on Your Corner event on Tucson's northwest side. Both still manifest significant debilitations from their wounds but are recovering. Six people were killed and 11 others, besides Giffords and Barber, were wounded.
Monday's media reports characterized the potential Barber candidacy as a "caretaker" role, intended to serve out the year remaining in Giffords' term. Other candidates would then presumably run for the seat in the reconstituted Congressional District 2, which covers a large expanse of what had been CD8.
Currently, three Republicans are in the running: Frank Antenori, a state senator from Vail; Jesse Kelly, a construction business manager who lost the election by a narrow margin to Giffords in 2010; and Dave Sitton, a sports broadcaster for the University of Arizona.
One Democrat, state Rep. Matt Heinz of Tucson, has announced his candidacy but said he would step away if Barber runs and gets Giffords' endorsement.
The candidates have until Feb. 27 to submit their nominating petitions. The primary election is scheduled for April 17 and the general for June 12.