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Former Giffords aide says congresswoman asked him to run

A little more than two weeks after Rep. Gabrielle Giffords resigned from Congress to focus on her recovery from the shooting in Tucson last year, her former District Director Ron Barber announced his campaign to fill the seat in Arizona’s 8th Congressional District for the remainder of her term.

Barber, who was also injured in the shooting last year, has worked with Giffords since 2006, and he indicated on a conference call with reporters Thursday that he would continue many of her priorities if elected in the special election set for June.

“I think we have a very strong bond,” Barber said of Giffords. “I know what her priorities are. In almost every case, they are my priories too. I feel I'm a moderate like she is.”

Barber said he decided to run after Giffords and her husband Mark Kelly urged him to run a few weeks ago, but he said it is "hard to say" if Giffords would be out on the campaign trail with him in Tucson.

"The Congresswoman looked at me directly and said, ‘Ron, will you run?” Barber recounted. “I have their full support going forward. I'm very fortunate and honored to have that.”

He added, “I hope the Congresswoman's support and Mark Kelly's support will be one way to let the voters know if they elect me they're going to get a similar kind of representation -- a hardworking, problem-solving, moderate in Congress."

State Rep. Matt Heinz had said he would seek the nomination in the April special election primary, but Heinz announced this afternoon that he was endorsing Barber and would focus on the general election for the new second congressional district. That could result in a showdown with Barber, if Barber wins and decides to seek a full term.

Barber said he has not decided whether he would seek a full two-year term in the general election this November in the redrawn 2nd Congressional District.

Once Barber returned to work after the shooting at the Safeway in January 2011, he was working half days up until his resignation, but he said that he feels he is physically and emotionally up to the job.

“I wouldn't be doing it if I didn't think I could,” Barber said. “I've never given less than 100% to every job, project, or initiative I've been involved with.”