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Randy Friese ends Democratic congressional run, cites work in COVID outbreak

Dr. Randy Friese, a Tucson surgeon and state lawmaker, called off his run for Congress on Thursday. His departure from the race to fill the seat being left open by U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick's retirement leaves three other Democrats contending in the primary.

Friese, who has continued to work as a doctor while serving as a state legislator for LD 9, said his announcement was made with "a heavy heart."

"When I moved to Tucson in 2008, it was with a firm commitment to serve and care for our community at our hospital. As the Delta variant surges across our region, it has become an increasing challenge to fulfill my obligations to the hospital, my patients, and the campaign amidst a run for Congress. I’ve always loved medicine and patient care, and I’ve come to the realization that I’m not ready to give that up," he said.

Friese declared his candidacy for the 2022 election cycle in Arizona's CD 2 in late March. He had raised about $560,000 for his congressional campaign as of the latest filing, which tallied fundraising through the end of June. At the time, he had $425,000 cash on hand for his run.

Friese had led the way in fundraising among the Democrats seeking the seat in Congress. State Sen. Kirsten Engel has raised $335,000 as of June, with $233,000 remaining. State Rep. Daniel Hernandez had pulled in $268,000, with $256,000 remaining. Marcos Urrea had raised $2,600, with about $1,000 remaining.

"I am deeply grateful to the thousands of people who have believed in me and our mission, and have stepped up to support this campaign," Friese said. "Understand that while this campaign is concluding, I remain fully committed to the values and issues at its heart — combating gun violence, ensuring affordable access to high quality healthcare, protecting our democracy, and, of course, ensuring that AZ-02 remains Democratic. I wholeheartedly encourage those who supported my campaign to do the same."

Friese was first elected to the state House in 2014, and re-elected every two years since. A Navy veteran, he rose to public prominence as one of the trauma surgeons who treated then-U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and nine-year-old Christina-Taylor Green following the Jan. 8, 2011 shootings.

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Randy Friese