"As a doctor, veteran, & educator I am ready to fight to help our community," Dr. Randy Friese said

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Rep. Randall Friese, D-Tucson, speaks as lawmakers debate among three proposed laws that are designed to deal with distracted driving caused by cellphone use on the floor of the House of Representatives at the Arizona Capitol
Randy Friese
| Credit: Ross D Franklin/AP/Shutterstock

A trauma surgeon-turned-local lawmaker who treated former Rep. Gabby Giffords after she was shot in the head in an attempted assassination in 2011 is running for Congress in Arizona.

Dr. Randy Friese, who has been in the Arizona state legislature since 2015, said Thursday that gun violence, the COVID-19 pandemic and extremist right-wing efforts to overturn the 2020 election were reasons he wanted to seek a seat in the House of Representatives.

"Having seen too much devastation from gun violence, I was encouraged to run for state house with the support of Gabby and her husband Mark Kelly," Friese said in a campaign video, announcing his congressional bid.

Giffords, 50, went through an extensive recovery after the 2011 shooting, which killed six people, and she returned to the House floor seven months later to a standing ovation. 

She later resigned in 2012 to focus on her rehab but became one of the nation's leading voices on gun violence through the Giffords Law Center. Her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly, was elected to the Senate in November.

Now, Friese hopes to succeed Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, who is retiring. Arizona state Sen. Kirsten Engel has also announced a campaign for the soon-to-be vacant seat.

"I want to bring my experience as an attorney, legislator, woman, and mom to Washington to help southern AZ families and small businesses," Engel tweeted earlier this month.

In his own campaign pitch, Friese tweeted Thursday that "the stakes of this election are too high. As a doctor, veteran, & educator I am ready to fight to help our community."

Arizona state Rep. Randall Friese, left, D-Tucson, talks with Rep. Michelle Ugenti-Rita, right, R-Scottsdale, during a bill debate at the capitol, in Phoenix Arizona Legislature
Randy Friese
| Credit: AP/Shutterstock

Friese, a Navy veteran, currently represents the Tucson area in the state House.

His initial campaign ad this week touted his role in treating Giffords after her shooting.

"My life has been about service," he tweeted. "On 1/8/11, I was called to service when a deranged gunman opened fire on [Giffords] & her constituents. I operated on her and other victims. I sat by their sides for months as they recovered. I know what it's like to wage tough battles and win."

The race for the House seat is expected to be competitive, according to The Hill, given that the seat has flipped back-and-forth between the Democratic and Republican parties.

Kirkpatrick, a Democrat, was first elected to her current seat in 2018. 

The seat has flipped between political parties four times since 2000.