Barber, 66, was Giffords’ district director in Congress from 2007 until she resigned last month. The Democrat said Giffords asked him to run for her seat, saying she and her husband, Mark Kelly, would full support his candidacy, CBS News reported.
"The congresswoman looked at me directly and said, 'Ron, will you run?'" Barber said, CBS News reported. "I was able to say to her thank you for asking me, encouraging me, I'm honored to have your support."
Giffords was injured last January, when a gunman shot her directly in the head after opening fire at a constituent event that left six people dead and 13 wounded. She resigned last month to focus on her recovery after serving three terms in Congress. Barber was also shot in the face and thigh.
Barber, from Tucson, resigned from his post this week in order to prepare for his candidacy, the Arizona Republic reported.
"Our community needs someone who will put politics aside and solve problems for the people of Southern Arizona," said Barber, who had served as Giffords' District Director and who has her support for his Congressional run.
Gov. Jan Brewer of Arizona determined the date for the special election primary for April 17 and general election for June 12, Reuters reported. The winning candidate will serve the rest of Giffords’ term, which ends on Dec. 31.
"While there will never be anyone who can fill Congresswoman Giffords' shoes, I look forward to continuing her legacy of putting problem-solving before politics," Barber said in a statement, Reuters reported.