Selecting Giffords’ Successor

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Associated Press reporter Paul Davenport explains the process for selecting someone to take Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ seat in Congress.

Gabrielle Giffords (video): Arizona is my home, always will be. A lot has happened over the past year we cannot change that, but I know on the issues we fought for we can change things for the better. Jobs. Border security. Veterans. [applause] We can do so much more by working together. I don't remember much from that horrible day, but I will never forget the trust you placed in me to be your voice. Thank you for your prayers and for giving me time to recover. I have more work to do on my recovery, so to do what is best for Arizona, I will step down this week. I'm getting better. Every day my spirit is high. I will return, and we will work together for Arizona and this great country. Thank you very much.

Ted Simons: And joining me to explain the process for finding congresswoman Giffords' successor is Paul Davenport of the Associated Press. Good to see you again. Thanks for joining us. What is that process? Lay it out for us.

Paul Davenport: In short it's a whirlwind. What we're talking about a special election that consists of a primary and a general and then of course we have the regular primary and the general later this fall.

Ted Simons: So primary has to be a certain day after the official announcement or when Congress tells the governor?

Paul Davenport: Right. Once Congresswoman Giffords actually leaves office, Congress tells the governor, that office is vacant. Under state law that triggers a process where the governor then has 80 to 90 days to -- she has a few days to set the election for 80 to 90 days down the road. After that you have the general 50 to 60 days.

Ted Simons: I heard primary likely in April, general in June?

Paul Davenport: That's the scenario we're looking at.

Ted Simons: That is pretty quick here. What are we hearing as far as Democrats likely to run?

Paul Davenport: We're hearing there's a lot of names being bandied about. We don't have a feel who will emerge from the pile. About a half dozen incumbent legislators, business people and other folks out in that community, they will have about 30 days to collect signatures.

Ted Simons: Guys like Steve Farley, Matt Hines possibilities?

Paul Davenport: Those are the names you hear about at the capitol. That's right. There are some names that aren't being bandied about yet publicly. The interesting thing on the Democratic side is to see if Congresswoman Giffords endorses somebody.

Ted Simons: Is there any indication she's looking to endorse, and if she does, she's got a hefty campaign chest there. Would some of that be used to help whoever she decides is best?

Paul Davenport: I don't think she can shift the whole kitty to them. She can make contributions out of that. By far the biggest thing would be the arm around somebody saying, this person is my choice.

Ted Simons: Interesting. What about the Republican side? What names are we hearing there?

Paul Davenport: Senator Frank Antonore, Jonathan Payton, former state Senator who ran in the primary last time. There would be quite a few names.

Ted Simons: Again, we mentioned previously, they are running to complete the term for the eighth district, but they almost have to run dual campaigns, don't they? Because so much of that district is now going to be moved into CD2 is that correct?

Paul Davenport: It is two simultaneous campaigns assuming you move forward in the process. The filing deadline for the general election, the regular two-year term, is in May, before the general in the special. So there's an overlap in timing as well as an overlap between the two districts. They are very similar but there are some changes around the edges.

Ted Simons: And I guess all candidates, this is an interesting race because all candidates need to be careful what they say, how they say it, if there's criticism of Giffords. It's going to be interesting to watch.

Paul Davenport: I don't think there will be too much criticism of Giffords.

Ted Simons: That's what I mean, you have to be really careful.

Paul Davenport: We can expect this to be a hot and heavy campaign, lots of national attention to it we're talking about a presidential election year with a special election in June.

Ted Simons: This district now, talk to us. Give us the makeup of--with the 8th but the 2nd as well, mostly the 8th. Mostly Republicans?

Paul Davenport: Tiny edge to Republican. This is about as competitive a congressional district as you're going to get in Arizona. The next version, the second, is even more tight. You're talking about eastern Tucson and then Cochise counties. It's a moderate district. Before Giffords they elected Congressman Colby, and he was a moderate in the Republican ranks.

Ted Simons: I want to ask you, would a young Gabrielle Giffords do you think be competitive in that district today? Moderate, pro business Democrat.

Paul Davenport: That would certainly help Democrat attract independent votes in that district.

Ted Simons: So basically we watch for the official announcement and get out of the way.

Paul Davenport: That's right.

Ted Simons: Good to have you.

Paul Davenport: My pleasure.

Paul Davenport:Associated Press

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