Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, 41, Arizona's first Jewish congresswoman, will resign from the Congress this week to focus on her recovery from an assassination attempt at a constituent meeting early last year. Her battle to recover from serious brain injury has been heroic and inspirational.
She was severely wounded on January 8, 2011, while holding a constituent meeting near her hometown of Tucson shortly after start of her third term. Thirteen were wounded by the lone gunman and six killed. She will not seek reelection this fall but in a recorded statement vowed, "I will return."
She is a member of Congregation Chaverim, a Reform synagogue, in Tucson.
Had she not been so badly injured, she might have run for the Senate seat being vacated this year by John Kyl (R), but her political career isn't over. Giffords said she plans to return, and if she makes good progress in her recovery, look for her to run for the Senate four years from now, especially if McCain retires.
This is her full video statement, which can be viewed here.
“Arizona is my home, always will be. A lot has happened over the past year. We need to not change that but I know on the issues we fought for we can change things for the better. We can do so much more by working together. I don’t remember much from that horrible day but I will never forget the trust you placed in me to be your voice. Thank you for your prayers and for giving me time to recover. I have more work to do on my recovery and so to do what is best for Arizona I will step down this week I’m getting better every day. My spirit is high. I will return and we will work together for Arizona and this great country.”
Political analyst Stuart Rothenberg said her resignation sets up a likely competitive special election and gives Republicans a pick-up opportunity, at least in the short term. The 8th District has been redrawn to be more Democratic but those lines won't be in effect until this fall's general election. A primary to fill the vacancy is likely in April and the special general election 50-60 days later, under state law.
"Whoever wins would have to immediately face another primary and general to win reelection in the revamped seat, renumbered the 2nd in 2012. That new district went just under 50 percent for both McCain and Bush, and got about two points better for Democrats," according to Rothenberg.