As Giffords Recovers, Party Officials Speculate About a Senate Run

The Congresswoman is in the early stages of recovery, but she's still considered a frontrunner for Jon Kyl's seat

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In the weeks since Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot in Tuscon, a steady stream of optimistic articles were written about her ongoing recovery. Encouragingly, she is now able to mouth words, briefly record a message for her husband Mark Kelly, and participate in a strict therapy regimen. But--as New York's Chris Rovzar noted--Giffords coverage tends to "lead with the startling, happy news of the speed of her recovery, and then bury the caveats down below." His point wasn't that the Congresswoman couldn't fully recover, only that it's easy for observers getting minute-by-minute updates to undermine an "already amazing recovery" with breathless speculation about her still uncertain political future.

With that in mind, Democrats have indeed started looking ahead to Jon Kyl's open Arizona Senate seat in 2012. And, prior to the shooting, Giffords had considered running for the seat. Even though Democrats are still cautious about her recovery, she's still considered a potential front runner for Kyl's seat according to Arizona Democratic Party Chairman Andrei Cherny (via Politico):

"Congresswoman Giffords’s name was clearly at the top of the list of potential candidates against Sen. Kyl, or if Sen. Kyl stepped down, over the past couple years. Given that, a lot of people of course thought immediately of her for this seat."

Is it premature to discuss a Giffords candidacy?

  • Don't Count Her Out Yet writes Politics Daily's Joanne Bamberger, who concedes that "in another political time, I might agree" that speculating about a potential Giffords bid is premature, even "crass." But this isn't another political time and, according to Bamberger's sources, "some members of Giffords' congressional class have volunteered to raise funds on her behalf" if she's physically able to run another campaign. She writes: "In light of the strides Giffords has made, potential GOP contenders such as Rep. Ben Quayle (R-Ariz.) and former Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R-Ariz.) shouldn't count out the congresswoman who has become the poster girl for beating the odds."
  • Democrats Are Encouraging Her reports Politico's Alexander Burns, speaking with Democratic and Republican strategists and party officials who remark on the "extraordinarily formidable" strengths that she would bring to a potential bid. But even Burns concedes that speaking about a campaign during the recovery process is a bit premature. His sentiment is best summed up by this: "So while it’s far too soon to say whether Giffords might run for office again next year — or ever — it no longer seems impossible"
  • Let Her Recover First, Please   "In my humble opinion, it is too early to speculate as to her political future and way too early to stop praying for her and wishing her a speedy and full recovery," blogs Dorian De Wind at The Moderate Voice. "And if this brief post—in the view of some—has detracted from such focus, I sincerely apologize. It will be the last one on this subject until Congresswoman Giffords herself speaks on this matter."
  • It's Rushing Things a Little Bit  At Outside the Beltway, Doug Mataconis weighs the stream of good news coming from doctors with the reality of launching a campaign soon after the tragedy. "While anything is possible, it seems unlikely that she’d be fully recovered enough to launch a Senate campaign in the time required, even if it is likely that she’d be unlikely to face significant opposition in a Democratic primary if she did," he writes. "Giffords was an up and coming politician in Arizona before January’s events, and it’s only natural that the circumstances have elevated her stature in the state. Nonetheless, I can’t help but think that Democrats are rushing things a little bit here."
  • Democrats Need to Pipe Down notes New York's Chris Rovzar, pointing at reports sourced from Politico. He reminds: "It's unclear so far the extent to which the functions of Giffords's mind have been affected. It's common for patients with injuries like hers to live with communication difficulties or a markedly changed personality. So far, it seems like her family and loved ones are optimistic but understand these realities. The same can't be said for Democrats in Washington, though."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.