Arizona Governor Jan Brewer on Friday ordered a special general election to be held on June 12 to fill a congressional seat vacated by Tucson Democrat Gabrielle Giffords, who resigned to focus on recovering from a gunshot wound to the head. The Republican governor also set an April 17 primary to choose the candidates who will vie to replace Giffords in what has proved to be a highly competitive district in southern Arizona. Giffords left office on Wednesday, cutting short her third term representing Arizona’s 8th congressional district as she continues to recover from a gunshot wound that left her with faltering speech and physical impairments.
She was shot at close range by a gunman who opened fire at a meet-and-greet for constituents outside a Tucson supermarket on January 8, 2011. Six people were killed and 12 others were wounded.
Giffords, in a resignation letter read aloud on the floor of the House of Representatives by close friend and fellow Democrat Deborah Wasserman-Schultz, said her district “deserves to elect a U.S. representative who can give 100 percent to the job.” Giffords won re-election by a slim 4,000 votes during the last election in 2010, brightening Republican hopes that the seat may again be within their gasp. Before Giffords, it was held by Republican Jim Kolbe for 22 years.