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Sources: Ron Barber to get Giffords endorsement

Ron Barber, an aide to U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords who was wounded in the Jan. 8 shooting, is likely to receive the former congresswoman's endorsement to run as a caretaker candidate in the special election to replace her, sources said.

Barber has been mulling a run since Giffords resigned two weeks ago, and held meetings with advisors over the weekend, sources said.

He is expected to announce his candidacy Monday or Tuesday.

Rumors and tidbits of information about who might be in or out of the election have swirled since Giffords announced her resignation last month. While few people have been willing to speak on the record, the question of candidacy has had every Democrat talking nonstop.

According to multiple sources, people close to Giffords approached Lisa Lovallo, a Cox Communications executive, about running as a Democrat in the race. The prospect of Lovallo—a Republican who has supported Mitt Romney's presidential campaign—getting Giffords' endorsement raised ire among many local Democrats, along with President Obama's campaign.

Lovallo is likely to skip the special election, but may file as a Democrat in the fall election in the newly drawn Congressional District 2.

Another potential candidate, Nan Stockholm Walden, a Southern Arizona pecan grower with political experience in Washington, D.C., may yet enter the race, but without a nod from Giffords. Differences on where to locate Border Patrol checkpoints nixed any chance of Walden receiving the endorsement, sources said.

The only other declared candidate on the Democratic side, state Rep. Matt Heinz, has said he would drop out of the special election if Barber entered as a caretaker candidate. Heinz said he would then focus his efforts on the fall CD2 race.

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State Sen. Paula Aboud has also indicated that she might run in the special election.

Barber was wounded twice in the Jan. 8, 2011, shooting that killed six and wounded 13, including Giffords. The congresswoman, who was shot in the head in what authorities charge was an assassination attempt, stepped down in January to focus on her recovery.

The 66-year-old ran the Southern Arizona office of the Division of Developmental Disabilities of the state Department of Economic Security before campaigning for Giffords, and then taking a job as her district director.

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Dylan Smith/TucsonSentinel.com

Barber in November 2011.