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Friese out: Tucson doc who ended Congress run now resigning from Az Legislature

State Rep. Randy Friese, who ended a run for Congress in September, submitted his resignation from the Arizona Legislature on Thursday. His last day in office will be Nov. 15. Friese said he's leaving to focus more time on his work as a medical doctor.

Friese had announced early last month, after winding down his campaign in the Democratic primary for Congressional District 2, that he intended to resign from the state House of Representatives in November. He has been representing Legislative District 9, which covers much of Midtown Tucson, Casas Adobes and the Catalina Foothills.

First elected in 2014 after becoming publicly prominent as one of the surgeons who treated U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords after the Jan. 8, 2011, assassination attempt, Friese had been mooted as a potential U.S. Senate candidate at one point.

Instead, he's leaving politics altogether to "refocus my time and attention on my medical career and service," he said.

"I am more than confident that LD 9 precinct committee persons and the Pima County Supervisors will appoint an enthusiastic and competent replacement," he said in his resignation letter.

"I am extremely proud of my service to my community and the state during the years I represented Legislative District 9," he said.

His replacement, who by state law must also be a Democrat, will be chosen by the Pima County Board of Supervisors from among three nominees determined by the precinct leaders in the legislative district.

One likely aspirant for the seat is Matt Kopec, who has has indicated he's interested in the appointment. Kopec is currently a member of the school board at Amphitheater Public Schools, and previously served as the area's state representative from 2016 to 2017 after being appointed to fill a vacancy.

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Friese, who has continued to work as a doctor while serving as a state legislator for LD 9, said in September that his decision to end his run for Congress 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 in September. "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 Giffords and nine-year-old Christina-Taylor Green following the Jan. 8, 2011 shootings.

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Randy Friese