Friday, March 4, 2011

Absence of Rep. Gabby Giffords is Felt on the Hill

According to the Hill, the tragic shooting in Tucson is having some impact on the race to replace the retiring Arizona Republican Jon Kyl in the US Senate.
Arizona Rep. Ed Pastor (D) said he's considering entering the Arizona Senate race, but is waiting to see whether Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D) recovers to mount a bid.

Giffords was considered the Democrats' best hope for picking up the seat being vacated by Sen. Jon Kyl (R), who announced his retirement last month. She remains in a Houston hospital where she is recovering from a January gunshot wound to the head.
Pastor would have a nice jump start if he decided to run for Senate because he had over $1 million in his campaign account at the beginning of the year. He comes from the Pheonix area, which is where a lot of the progressive base in Arizona lives. Pastor's district, for instance, was the best performing district in the state for Obama (he received 66% of the vote there, which is extremely impressive considering that McCain's from Arizona). With that being said, Pastor's popularity extends beyond just the progressive base as he ran more than 6 points ahead of Obama in 2008 and was able to receive 67% of the vote during the difficult climate for Democrats during the 2010 election.

Rep. Giffords was also in the news yesterday because she was one of 15 members named to the DCCC's Frontline program. This is a list of Representatives who the DCCC believes are the most vulnerable in 2012. As DCCC Chairman Steve Isreal said in a statement, however, these "members are battle tested and survived tough re-elections to return to Congress.” They have therefore proven that they can win, its worthwhile "making sure they have the money, message and mobilization needed to be successful and continue fighting for the middle class families and small businesses in their districts.”

UPDATE: In case you didn't know this already, Rep. Giffords serves on the Armed Services Committee. While she's recovering from being shot, her presence is still felt in the Committee room. Not only is the ranking Democrat on the committee (Rep. Adam Smith) working with her office to make sure her concerns are addressed during hearings, but there is an empty chair with her name card displayed during a hearing.

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