Arizona Democratic state Rep. Daniel Hernandez announced his bid Thursday to represent Arizona’s 2nd Congressional District.
Hernandez joins a growing competitive Democratic primary set for August 2022 that includes fellow state House Rep. Randy Friese, a Navy veteran and trauma surgeon who operated on Giffords and others injured in the shooting, and Arizona state Sen. Kirsten Engel, a University of Arizona environmental law professor.
The seat is currently held by Democratic Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, who announced in March she will not seek reelection and instead retire at the end of her term.
Hernandez said Thursday that he’s running for Congress to “ensure Southern Arizona continues to have leaders like Gabby Giffords and Ann Kirkpatrick,” and “to continue to fight for progressive values while working across the aisle.”
As a 20-year-old college student, Hernandez was in his first week interning for Giffords on January 8, 2011.
That day, the then-Democratic congresswoman was holding a “Congress on Your Corner” constituent event at a Tucson-area grocery store when a gunman opened fire on the crowd and shot Giffords in the head.
Hernandez used his bare hands to stop Giffords from losing more blood until paramedics arrived on the scene.
Six people were killed in the shooting. Thirteen, including Giffords, were injured.
Hernandez was credited for saving her life and hailed as a hero.
He told The Advocate that the shooting “cemented” his desire to go into public service. The shooting also led him to push for gun reform and change his stance on expanded background checks for gun purchases.
Hernandez was first elected in 2017 to the Arizona state House and is a co-founder of the Arizona House LGBTQ caucus.
Arizona adopted new congressional districts in 2012 and is expected to redraw districts following the 2020 US Census.