Tonight Is Gifford’s Last Appearance — What Happens Next? — UPDATED

Ever since Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords announced that she would be retiring from her seat in the House to focus on her recovery from last year’s assassination attempt, support has been flowing for the Democratic lawmaker.

Her good friend and DNC Chairwoman, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz stated, “Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is an incredible public servant, woman, and friend.  No one can really understand what she and her family have been through over the past year.  The remarkable progress of her recovery, combined with her indelible zest for life, has lifted the spirits of millions of Americans…Gabby has had such a positive impact on our nation.  Even in announcing her resignation, she reminds us that ‘we can do so much more by working together.’  We will miss Gabby’s spirit in Congress and I will miss working with my friend day-to-day, but I am confident that she will return to public service and we can all work together for America.”

Even President Barack Obama weighed in on her retirement. “Over the last year, Gabby and her husband Mark have taught us the true meaning of hope in the face of despair, determination in the face of incredible odds, and now – even after she’s come so far – Gabby shows us what it means to be selfless as well.”

Tonight, at the State of the Union, Giffords is expected to make her last public appearance before officially stepping down. So how does Arizona get a new representative in the meantime?  Politico lays out the timeline for a new special election.

“Under Arizona law, Gov. Janice Brewer (R) has 72 hours from the day the seat is officially vacant to announce a date for a special election to replace Giffords. The party primary must be held 80-90 days from the date of vacancy, with a general election 50-60 days after that. That sets up a primary in a seat that could be tough for Democrats to hold in mid to late April, with a general election in mid-June.”

Special education teacher Anthony Prowell had already announced a plan to run in the 2012 primary, concerned, he said, that Giffords would not run and that Republicans would take over the seat.  Other candidates will likely appear after the retirement is official.

Although special elections, due to lower voter turnout, tend to favor Republicans, the nature of this election could inspire more Democrats to show up at the polls in order to honor Giffords by retaining her seat.  But a mid-June primary, meaning summer, more outside activities, and students on break from college, also could suppress Democratic votes as well, making the seat a total toss-up.  And whoever does win would still need to turn around and instantly run again for the November election, too.

With two elections in a matter of 10 months, and no incumbent, this will be a race the whole nation will be watching.

UPDATE: It appears Giffords will have one last moment in the House, where tomorrow she will cast a vote for a bill to stop drug smuggling across the border.

photo credit:United States Congress


W. C
W. C2 months ago


William C
William C2 months ago

Thank you for the article.

Barbara S.

Even if Gabby never comes back to national politics, you can bet she will work to make a huge difference for all who are victims - of violence, politics, greed, and irrational thinking. I wish her all the best, and know that we will continuously hear about her, and from her, in the years to come. And whatever messages she brings will be POSITIVE. We should have more people like Gabby.

Maurice Simoens
Maurice Simoens5 years ago

its hurt to see what the devils tea party has done to this wonderfull woman

Frank Mugford
Frank Mugford5 years ago

Very best wishes and good luck to Democrat Gabrielle for a continuation in her recovery; she is an inspiration to everybody/anybody.
Must have been a crazed republicuant who tried to kill her. The GOP is such a regressive bunch of mean spirited, quasi religious, snake handling, mono browed, red necked, global warming denying, 'for life' before birth and couldn't give a shit afterwards morons.
You'll notice that jeffrey w couldn't find it within himself to wish Gabrielle well.
How can anyone find it acceptable to vote republicuant? Why does anybody vote republicuant?
It's oxymoronic to juxtapose the words 'Republicans' and 'the greatest country in the World (at the moment)' and it's so dangerous for all of us that morons form the GOP steer the overseas activities of the USA and so divisive for US Citizens that these same morons be in charge of domestic policies.

Rob Keenan
Rob Keenan5 years ago

Dear Congresswoman Giffords: even in your farewell video you're uplifting and inspiring and you'll be missed not only by me,but by relatives of mine who live in your District.When you say you'd like to return to political life after you've recovered sufficiently,I'd like it if that return would eventually lead you to becoming our first woman U.S President.

Jan W.
Jan W5 years ago

Thank you, Gabby. You continue to inspire and give hope to many of us. Many blessings for your recovery.

Holly Lawrence
Holly Lawrence5 years ago

So sad..but how BEAUTIFUL was this .. the love showed to Gabby was wonderful! Sohope she runs again ..

Alice B.
Alice B5 years ago

I am no fan of politicians and am way to the left of the Dems, but Congresswoman Giffords has been an inspiration to me as a disabled woman myself. I also am continuing my recovery from brain & spinal injuries from having been a victim of violent crime; I know that she's also got to be dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder. I hope that she will go on to speak out on behalf of crime victims and their rehabilitation needs. Too many of my medical-care support services were cutback in the midst of my rehabilitation process due to political malarky; and then once I got better due mostly to my own very hard work through major pain and effort, my "reward" was losing ALL of my medical coverage and entitlement help. I had to retire early due to no job hirings and so for the rest of my life my Social Security retirement check is about HALF of what it would have been otherwise, and I haven't had ANY medical coverage since Spring of 2007. I am hanging on 'til I turn 65 this September - and even then Medicare is under the gun from rightwingers. So, Gabby Gifford you have your work cut out for you - please speak out on behalf of those of us who don't have the access that you do to worldwide media. We need your help. Thank you for all you have done to shine a light - please take extra good care and keep your own inner light burning bright.

Silvia W.
Silvia W5 years ago

I will keep praying for your continued recovery, Gabby. You are a great power of example to us all. Lots of Love, ~ Sil