Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head by a crazed assassin in Tucson on January 8, and while much of the media attention has been directed at the pace her recovery, there’s always been a undercurrent of buzz about her political future — as early as February, when she still had barely re-awakened from a coma, officials from both political parties were openly discussing the possibility that she’d run for Senate next year.
Nine months and one public appearance (she appeared on the congressional floor to vote on August’s debt ceiling bill) later, Giffords still hasn’t announced a decision. But with news of an upcoming media blitz next month revolving around her upcoming memoir and audiobook that will feature her voice for the first time since she was hospitalized, it’s looking more and more likely that her political career is not over.
On Thursday morning, the campaign for New York Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand sent out an email with the subject line, “Gabby,” raising money for Giffords, a close friend. “Gabby needs to put all her energy into her recovery, but when she returns to work, she will have a tough re-election to deal with,” the letter read. “By making a contribution to Gabby’s campaign today, you can help ensure she has the resources to return to Congress where she’s so badly needed.”
The letter comes in the wake of recent reports that the Giffords campaign raised nearly $200,000 over the summer, and has nearly a million dollars cash on hand.
However, the Giffords campaign say that the numbers don’t mean anything — especially since they have until next spring to formally submit the necessary signatures to get on the ballot. “Congresswoman Giffords has not yet decided about next year — she is focused on her recovery as Senator Gillibrand wrote in her email,” said a Giffords campaign spokesman. “We are preparing her campaign as normal, so if she decides to run, it’s ready to go.”
A spokesman for the Gillibrand campaign added the email was intended to make sure that the Giffords had enough money in case she ran for re-election, but right now the Congresswoman was concentrating on the “even more challenging task of rehabilitation.”
And — seriously — who would go against the wishes of even the Republican Party and actually run against Gabby Giffords, or at least pressure her to make a decision as soon as possible?
Meet Arizona State Senator Frank Antenori, who has filed papers and recently suggested, among other things, that delaying an announcement could be part of a strategy to keep Republicans away from a seat in a moderate-leaning district that Giffords barely won in 2008. “You are not going to use this strategy for a political purpose and try to keep Republicans out of the race until May,” he said.