Gabrielle Giffords gets a liberal challenger

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., center, gets a hug as she appears on the floor of the House of Representatives Monday, Aug. 1, 2011, in Washington, D.C. Giffords was on the floor for the first time since her shooting earlier this year, attending a vote on the debt standoff compromise.
AP Photo/House Television

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, the Arizona Democrat still recovering from being critically wounded in a mass shooting in January, hasn't said yet whether she'll run for re-election, but she already is facing a challenger from the left.

Elementary special education teacher Anthony Prowell of Tucson has filed to run against Giffords as a Democrat, the Los Angeles Times reports, on the promise of representing everyday people's concerns in Congress. Prowell, however, is registered as an Independent and has received zero support from the Democratic party. He told the Times he may decide to run as a Green part candidate rather than as a Democrat.

Prowell said he would have challenged Giffords regardless of the Tucson shooting that killed six people and injured 13, including Giffords. Yet he said he was also motivated by the fact that Giffords may not run for re-election, potentially leaving the seat open for a Republican.

Republican State Sen. Frank Antenori has filed papers for a possible run against Giffords and will make his final decision based on variables such as possible changes to district boundaries. Meanwhile, Antenori this week questioned whether Giffords is fit to sufficiently represent her district. "Can she do this next term to the same degree of every member of Congress, is she able to continue that level of energy?" he asked in an interview with The Hill.

Prowell reportedly called Giffords' office to notify her staff about his candidacy and to inquire about whether she's made a decision about running for re-election. He said they told her she would decide in eight to 10 months, though that's past filing deadlines.

While Giffords has yet to decide, the head of the Democratic party, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, said earlier this month she expects her close friend to return to Congress "full-time."

Jennifer Johnson, the Arizona Democratic Party spokeswoman, added that Arizona Democrats support Giffords. "Gabby will make her decision on her own timetable, and nobody is stopping him or anyone else from entering the CD 8 race," she said, the Arizona Republic reports.

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