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Republican Sitton files exploratory for Giffords’ seat

Businessman and broadcaster Dave Sitton is eying a congressional seat, but the Tucson Republican has a few questions that need to be cleared up before he takes the plunge.

Sitton, who filed an exploratory committee for the current 2nd Congressional District on Thursday, said his final decision on whether to seek a House seat will depend on three factors – what his district looks like, what kind of fundraising he can do, and whether Democratic U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords seeks reelection.

“I’d say those are three pretty substantive questions to be asked,” he said.

Sitton said he expects to make a decision by the end of March, though that deadline could be pushed back if Arizona’s redistricting process isn’t finalized by then. With so much uncertainty surrounding the process after the ouster of Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission Chairwoman Colleen Mathis, it could take longer than that to finalize the new congressional map.

“That’s a factor that could move a decision back. That’s a pretty substantial criteria for making a run. It very, very definitely is an exploratory,” Sitton said.

Fundraising may not be as much of a problem. Sitton has the backing of auto dealership owner and prominent Tucson Republican fundraiser Jim Click, whose support historically translates into strong fundraising.

“It never hurts. He’s been asking me to consider this for a while now. He’s been a motivator,” Sitton said.

Sitton, a cancer survivor, is the global marketing director the University of Arizona Cancer Center. He is also a longtime Arizona Wildcats broadcaster with Fox Sports Net and other networks.

Republican National Committeeman Bruce Ash, a longtime friend, described Sitton as a “very committed conservative” who likes helping people solve problems. Sitton’s fellow Tucson Republican said he’ a likeable person whose familiarity to Wildcats fans in the Old Pueblo will serve him well in a congressional race.

“He’s known by tons and tons of people. He has an excellent name in southern Arizona. His likeability index is probably very, very high,” Ash said.

Sitton isn’t the first Republican to open an exploratory committee for Giffords’ seat. Sen. Frank Antenori, R-Tucson, is eying the race as well. But Antenori has seat he’s leaning against run because he feels the proposed district drawn by the IRC favors Democrats.

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