Now that Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona is stepping down from Congress, her potential successors will have just about a month to decide whether to run in a special election to fill her seat.
Three-term Democrat on Sundaythat she'll leave her seat this week, just over a year after she was shot in the head in an assassination attempt.
Once she officially steps down, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer will have 72 hours to announce the date of a primary special election, according to state law. The primary must be held between 80 to 90 days after the vacancy is announced, and the special general election must be held between 50 to 60 days after the special primary. That means that the special primary election would likely take place in April and the special general election would take place in June.
Candidates will have 30 days after the election date is announced to file nomination papers and petitions for candidacy.
Giffords narrowly won re-election in 2010, and the race to fill her seat is expected to be competitive. The candidates will be in a particularly challenging situation, since in addition to running in the special election for Giffords' seat in the 8th district, they'll also have to campaign for the newly-drawn 2nd district if they plan on serving past this year, the Arizona Republic notes. More than 90 percent of the voters in the new 2nd district, drawn up after the 2010 Census, come from the old 8th district.
A handful of Republicans have filed papers to possibly run for the 2nd district seat, including Arizona State Sen. Frank Antenori and sports broadcaster Dave Sitton. Antenori is expected to announce today whether he'll run in the special election, the Arizona Daily Star reports.
On the Democratic side, some potential candidates include state legislators Paula Aboud, Steve Farley and Matt Heinz, according to the Republic.
Steve Israel, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said in a statement Sunday, "We look forward to working with a Democratic candidate who fits this district and shares those values that Gabrielle holds dear to carry on her work."
While she's not finishing out her term, Giffords today isshe was hosting on January 8, 2011, when a gunman open fired and shot 19 people, including Giffords. The congresswoman is meeting privately with some of the people who were at the tragic event, including some of the wounded and some who helped the victims.