Gabrielle Giffords For Senate?

The retirement of Jon Kyl means that there will be an open Senate race in Arizona in 2012, and some Democrats there think that Gabrielle Giffords would be the perfect candidate if she’s willing and able to run:

The race for Arizona’s open Senate seat has quickly focused in on one question: What will Gabrielle Giffords do?
The Democratic congresswoman, who survived an assassination attempt in Tucson last month, is still undergoing rehabilitation in Houston for a gunshot wound to the head. Physicians have warned that her recovery will proceed at its own pace.

But even though questions about her health remain, Giffords’s astonishingly rapid recovery has left Democrats in Arizona and Washington looking to her as a potential candidate to replace retiring GOP Sen. Jon Kyl.

Giffords was mentioned as one possible contender for the 2012 race during a closed-door meeting of Senate Democrats on Thursday, two sources with knowledge of the meeting said.

In Arizona, strategists continue to view Giffords as a compelling candidate for higher office. That’s a distinction few Democrats in the state can claim after last November, when Republicans captured two U.S. House seats and won every statewide office on the ballot.

“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,” Arizona Democratic Party Chairman Andrei Cherny said.

The most important consideration, of course, is whether Giffords would be physically and mentally up for the task of  running for office, or serving if she won. We’ve heard nothing but good news from doctors regarding her recovery, but the truth likely is that her recovery is more difficult than the press clippings make it seem, and will likely take longer than it many seem to be expecting.  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.

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.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, Congress, US Politics, , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Dave Schuler says:

    I don’t see being physically or mentally incapacitated as being a barrier to membership in the Senate. It might even be a prerequisite.

    And if Chicago’s experience is any gauge being unable or ineligible to run is no barrier for seeking elective office.

  2. jwest says:

    Leave it to Doug to impose unrealistic restrictions on our elected representatives.

    If applied across the board, the requirement that someone be “mentally up for the task of running for office, or serving….” would decimate the Democrat Party. Democrats have a long and proud tradition of voting people into office with far more serious afflictions (such as being dead), so a minor injury shouldn’t prevent a candidate from seeking office.

  3. An Interested Party says:

    “If applied across the board, the requirement that someone be ‘mentally up for the task of running for office, or serving….’ would decimate the Democrat Party.”

    Ahh, the usual tired claptrap from jwest, who fails to note that, if we are going to use the same hyperbolic, nonsensical reasoning that he/she/it uses, that requirement would decimate both major political parties…as for that dead thing…well, to take one of the more recent most famous examples…the fact that the people of Missouri voted for Mel Carnahan to be their senator says more about John Ashcroft than it does about the Democratic Party…

  4. Neil Hudelson says:


    It’s not that Democrats are inclined to vote for people with serious afflictions, its that when given the choice between most Republican candidates and a rotting corpse in the ground, the rotting corpse seems to be so much more competent.

  5. jwest says:


    Your grasp of the difference in the word “corpse” and “corps” is remarkable, considering some democrats have made it to the presidency without acquiring that knowledge.

  6. matt says:

    Jwest : That last bit was really slacking bro. You might want to take a break or something cause it’s like your heart isn’t even into trolling these days..

  7. TG Chicago says:

    If they want to parlay the emotional impact of the Gifford shooting, I wonder if they’d consider recruiting her husband instead. America loves their astronauts.

  8. Neil Hudelson says:


    Very unimpressive. I expect better from you when it comes to vitriol.

  9. Pug says:

    Arizona, I believe, is planning on seceeding before the next election anyway. So it really doesn’t matter.

    I think everybody should just give Mrs. Giffords a rest right now.