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Posted Feb 2, 2012, 7:04 pm
UA sports announcer Dave Sitton is seeking the Republican nomination to fill the congressional seat vacated by Gabrielle Giffords, he said Thursday.
Sitton, who is the marketing director for the University of Arizona Cancer Center, has been looking at jumping into politics, and formed an exploratory committee in November.
He'll run in the special election to fill Giffords' Congressional District 8 seat, which starts with a primary in April, he said.
Sitton wouldn't commit to running in the newly drawn CD2, which overlaps most of CD8, in the fall if he doesn't win the special election, but said he'd be sure to if he wins a seat.
Sitton said he'd honor Giffords' legacy of service if he is elected, despite their political differences. He called her decision to resign "courageous."
While admitting that he's "an amateur" at politics, Sitton touted his experience in business, athletics, and as a cancer fighter. He contrasted his four decades in Tucson with his Republican rivals in the primary.
Also running are state legislator Frank Antenori, who announced last week, and Jesse Kelly, who filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission and is expected to formally declare his candidacy this week. Kelly, who had the backing of the Tea Party, narrowly lost to Giffords in the 2010 general election.
"I’ve been here for the booms, the busts. I’ve experienced success and I’ve also experienced a few failures in my lifetime," he said.
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"My life is very much like most of us who have lived here in Southern Arizona," he said.
Sitton said he wants to go to Washington to represent taxpayers, calling them "job creators."
He also contrasted his candidacy with his GOP competitors' by talking about nonpartisan solutions.
"Right now we need more Americans than party members," he said.
Antenori and Kelly both have been outspoken in dismissing talk of working with the other party.
Rather than working across the aisle, Kelly once said that he hoped there would be no Democrats in Congress if he were elected.
Despite the centrist peace offering, Sitton blasted health care reform.
"I would be an advocate for replacing 'Obamacare' with something that truly matches the wishes and desires of the free people and citizens of the United States," he said.
He'd be open to discussing legalizing marijuana, he said when questioned after his announcement.
"We need to have a mature discussion in this country," he said.
"Across our border there is a militia, a vehicle of war, that has been created because of the demand for drugs in this country," he said.
"Are we going to continue on this path where we pay lip service to having a war on drugs?" he asked. "What we're doing right now ain't working."
"Why don't we get some really good answers instead of just guys guessing in Washington?" he asked.
Sitton said that he'd favor immigration reform, but would like to see the border more secure first.
Sitton, a UA graduate, coaches rugby and has broadcast the university's basketball, football and baseball games.
He said he has one game left he's contracted to announce, which he may or may not be allowed to do as a declared candidate. After that, he'll put his sports broadcasting on hiatus while he's in politics, he said.
Special election schedule
The special election primary is set for April 17, and the special general election is June 12. The person elected will finish the remainder of Giffords' current term representing CD 8.
The regular election cycle will happen concurrently, with most of CD8 voting for a representative in the new CD2 in August primaries and November's general election. The change in districts was part of the decennial redistricting mandated by the U.S. Constitution.