Posted by on February 14, 2012 in Blog

It’s official. Two Arab Americans will face off for Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords’s old congressional seat. Arizona State Senator Paula Aboud confirmed yesterday that she will run for office in Arizona’s newly redrawn District 2. Two weeks earlier, State Representative Matt Heinz announced that he would pursue the same office. The soon-to-be-formed District 2 will contain much of Giffords’s former district 8, which, due to her recent retirement, is now vacant. Neither Aboud nor Heinz (both Democrats) will run in the special election which is set for June 12, leaving former Giffords aide Ron Barber unchallenged for the Democratic ticket in the special election. It is unclear whether Barber will run for a full term come November. Currently, Aboud and Heinz are the only two officially declared candidates running for Giffords’s seat in November.

For weeks, we’ve been excited, heavily anticipating what Aboud’s announcement yesterday confirmed; for the first time in Arizona’s history, two Arab Americans will run against each other for Congress.  Needless to say, this race holds national significance on multiple levels. From a legislative perspective, Arizona is a key battleground state on issues like immigration. Arizona’s controversial immigration law SB 1070 has brought the State’s immigration policy to the center of the national debate on comprehensive immigration reform. Additionally, in a presidential election year, Democrats potentially risk losing another seat in the House. “This race is important for Arizona and to the US and to Obama,” said Aboud. “The key policy issues will be jobs, education funding, immigration and the affordable healthcare act.”  Regardless of the outcome, Aboud and Heinz will pose fierce opposition to both each other, Barber (if he decides to run for a full term) and any potential Republican challengers.

Aboud is in a great position to be a potential front runner. In 2006, she took over for Gabrielle Giffords in the State Senate when she was elected to Congress. Since then, Aboud has been a leader in the Arizona Senate and currently sits on three standing committees, including the Higher Education Committee and Commerce and Economic Development committees. She is also the ranking Democratic member of the Appropriations Committee. Aboud replaced Giffords once before and in a video address posted on her candidate website, Aboud says as a Member of Congress, she intends to “further honor [Giffords’s] dedication by serving the people of southern Arizona with the same intelligent, committed and common sense leadership.” Like Heinz, Paula Aboud is of Lebanese decent. You can learn more about Aboud's and Heinz's legislative achievements by visiting their member pages. The hyperlinks appear below.

Senator Paula Aboud

Representative Matt Heinz



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