In today's political climate, a Democrat must assume the chances of winning a Senate seat in Arizona are about the same as an ice cube lasting more than 30 seconds in the Grand Canyon State's famous 100-degree-plus summer heat. There's no doubt Rep. Gabrielle Giffords
(D-Ariz.) has been well aware of that, but apparently, she's had her eye on Republican Sen. Jon Kyl's seat
on the chance he would not run again in 2012.
Kyl has chosen not to run for re-election.
Shortly after the news broke this week, political observers lamented that Giffords, who was shot
in the head in a rampage that left six dead and 13 wounded at a January constituent gathering in Tucson, would not be able take advantage of the opportunity because of her injury. Plus, a Giffords victory would increase, from a sad 17, the number of women in the 100-seat Senate.
But with reports that Giffords' recovery has been amazing
and is progressing at "lightning speed
," have we written off her future political career too quickly?
Val Jones, M.D.
, a rehabilitation medicine specialist and CEO of Better Health, says, "In the end, the best-case scenario is that Giffords will have subtle enough deficits to be undetected by onlookers, but if she runs again, I'm sure she'll need extra support. I'd suspect that she'll need to lean on assistants for heavy mental work and may not have the intellectual stamina she had before ... [which] will make it difficult to keep up a grueling political pace in life."
Obviously, Giffords has an arduous road ahead of her. Some observers say she shouldn't even consider running for re-election to her current congressional seat, let alone make a bid for an even tougher Senate battle, calling such speculation about Giffords' future crass
and an unrealistic "fairy tale scenario
In another political time, I might agree on both counts. But in our world, where every moment is a campaign moment, it's fair to ponder the possibility, especially since Giffords has made more recovery progress than anyone imagined possible.
It's only been a little more than a month since the shooting and not only has Giffords opened her eyes, she is communicating, eating, moving, breathing on her own, and starting rehabilitation. As someone with a family member who suffered a traumatic brain injury not so long ago, I can tell you that to reach those milestones in a month is nothing short of miraculous, even if Giffords still has a marathon ahead of her.
If Giffords does reach the point where she is physically able to run another campaign, sources tell Politics Daily that some members of Giffords' congressional class have volunteered to raise funds on her behalf. The Democratic fundraising site ActBlue
already has a page dedicated to Giffords' 2012 House race. And it's clear that she has the moral support of her two heavy-hitter political friends, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), who were at her bedside
when she first opened her eyes after the shooting.
So is it crazy to dream of seeing "Giffords for Senate in 2012" bumper stickers on cars driving around Phoenix, Flagstaff and Tucson? Or perhaps they'd say something a little more cheery, like "Go, Gabby, Go!" 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.
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