AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin Arizona Democratic Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick waves to supporters as she walks up to the podium prior to Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaking at a campaign rally Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2016, in Tempe, Ariz.
AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin

The 2022 race could shape up to be one of the most heated in the country.

The race for outgoing Democratic Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick’s seat is quickly heating up. Multiple hopefuls have declared they will be running for her seat in the 2022 election just weeks after the long-term representative announced she wouldn’t run for reelection next year. 

Kirkpatrick was elected to the seat in 2019 and has served in Arizona politics for more than two decades. 

Her retirement leaves the seat representing the Tucson-based 2nd Congressional District up for grabs. It is often one of the most contested in the state with winners declared by razor-thin margins, such as the 2014 race between Ron Barber and former Sen. Martha McSally. 

The district, which includes parts of Tucson and southeastern Arizona, has consistently trended Democrat. However, redistricting will likely change the boundaries ahead of the 2022 election.

So far, two Democrats have announced their intent to run in what’s likely going to be a very crowded primary. Here’s what we know about the current contenders for the seat:

Sen. Kirsten Engel

State Sen. Kirsten Engel

Arizona Sen. Kirsten Engel of Tucson was the first to throw her hat into the ring. Engel, an environmental law professor at University of Arizona, announced her intent to run on March 19. She’s currently serving in the Arizona Senate following two terms in the house. 

In a post announcing her candidacy, Engel cited her experience as an attorney, legislator, woman, and mother. Her statement emphasized a need to recover from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and build a sustainable economy for southern Arizona families and small businesses. 

Rep. Randall Friese, D-Tucson, speaks in the House Arizona Capitol, May 3, 2016, in Phoenix.
AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin

State Rep. Randy Friese

Arizona Rep. Randy Friese announced he’s running for Congress Thursday. 

The Democrat has served in the Arizona House since 2015 and is currently in his fourth and final term. He’s a retired US Navy Medical Corps veteran and a professor at UA’s College of Medicine. As a trauma surgeon, he treated then-US Rep. Gabriel Giffords after being critically wounded in a 2011 mass shooting in Tucson. 

“We are at a critical moment for public health and for our democracy. We need fact-based problem solvers in Washington to continue the tradition of Southern Arizona Democrats like Gabby Giffords, Ron Barber, and Ann Kirkpatrick,” Friese said in his announcement. “I am determined to ensure that we keep this seat blue and represented by someone with the right priorities. I’ll put people first.”

Friese tweeted Thursday that his top priorities include “life-saving gun reform” and “putting this pandemic behind us.”

The Copper Courier will continue to update this list as more information becomes available.