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Friese ices Senate run after Sinema announcement

Tucson legislator and doctor Randy Friese said Friday that he won't run for the U.S. Senate, endorsing U.S. Rep. Kyrsten Sinema after her announcement the previous day that she'll campaign to be the Democrat running against Sen. Jeff Flake.

State Rep. Friese said he'll instead seek reelection to the state House of Representatives from LD 9 next year.

The trauma surgeon had been exploring a run for a seat in D.C.

"I've been overwhelmed by the encouragement and support I've received from Democrats across Arizona. My primary motivation has been to ensure that Democrats have a viable challenger to Sen. Flake," he said.

Flake may not make it through the Republican primary, where he faces a challenge on the right from former state Sen. Kelli Ward, who lost in an attempt to primary U.S. Sen. John McCain last year.

"While the fracture within the Republican party widens during a divisive primary, Democrats have an opportunity to come together and focus on success in November 2018," Friese said. "I plan to do what I can to help ensure that Arizona has better representation in the U.S. Senate while I continue to work on providing solutions for Arizona in the state House."

Sinema ended months of not-so subtle preparation and much speculation with the announcement, which she made in a brief campaign video.

The Tucson native will face activist Deedra Abboud and a handful of political unknowns in the Democratic primary.

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Democrats haven't won a U.S. Senate seat in Arizona since 1988, when Dennis DeConcini won a second term.

Sinema's announcement Thursday set off a chain reaction among other Democrats who had been eyeing races. Her campaign will leave an open seat in her Tempe congressional district, with both parties having an opportunity to win.

In Tucson, Friese's decision to run again for the Legislature means Matt Kopec, a former state representative who lost in the Democratic primary in 2016, said he will back away from running again in the district next year.

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