Potential Giffords opponent defends candidacy questions

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TUSCON, Ariz. - Republican State Sen. Frank Antenori has taken the first step toward a possible run for U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords' seat.

Now he says questions about Giffords' status need to be addressed.

Antenori, of Tuscon, told Washington newspaper "The Hill" that, "She is cognizant enough to read and comprehend the debt bill and cast a vote but her handlers don't feel the media should be given access to her, and I don't know why that is."

"The voters need to make a decision, and how do they do that without information? They can't make an assessment of her ability because her staff have denied access to the media. If she's back, as they claim, why are they still blocking media access to her?"

On Thursday, Antenori defended his statements and said he was not criticizing Giffords ability to run, but was just raising valid questions.

"The point I was trying to make is her staff is going around, making all of these quotes, and discussions, but nobody is speaking to the congresswoman," Antenori said.

The state senator said he will likely make his decision on whether or not to run early next year, based on Giffords' plans and redistricting.

"The decision is if Ms. Giffords is able to vigorously represent the district or not and whether or not redistricting presents a district that's favorable to run or not," Antenori said.

Political analysts say if Giffords does seek re-election, opponents will face an uphill battle.

"I think that cooler minds will prevail, if she decides to get in the race and the district lines look much like they do now, Frank may choose to stay in the state Senate," said Marcus Dell'Artino, political strategist with First Strategic.