Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Gabby Giffords

Gabby Giffords, Member of the House from Arizona, resigned today in a tear-filled ceremony on the House floor, after showing up for Barack Obama's State of the Union last night. She says she'll be back; I wouldn't bet against her.

I think the thing to remember about Giffords is that before she was shot she was widely regarded as having a huge future. Of course, one can never tell how these things will play out, but she certainly would have been on the short list of Democrats to run for the open Arizona Senate seat this year; her mentions for that after Jon Kyl announced he was retiring may have been unrealistic during her recovery, but she was very much a rising star in Democratic politics, and my guess is that without the assassination attempt she would have run, won the nomination, and had a very solid shot at winning in November. And if that happened? With four years in the Senate, a presumably moderately liberal voting record, and a great personal story, she would certainly have been at least mentioned for Vice President in 2016. And after that? Who knows?

Now, of course you could probably say similar things about a few dozen Members of the House...but that leaves a few hundred who have no such potential. With any luck, Giffords will have as full a recovery as possible, and go on to whatever accomplishments she wants, whether in politics or not. It's great to see how far she's already come. But for now at least, the people of Arizona and the US House have really lost a good one.

7 comments:

  1. While agreeing with everything else, I hadn't really heard anything about Giffords having potential beyond a potential chance to take a Senate seat in reddish territory (and that more because of demographic changes).

    I also wonder if a young Senator with a thin voting record is the new traditional path to the White House. My impression is that Obama was seen very much as an exception in conventional political science. As a Senator, I think Giffords would be more McCaskill than Gillibrand, because she'd be representing more conservative voters. As a VP, she'd be analogous to Quayle in the national experience sense.

    I do hope Mark Kelly runs and can hold the seat, and that Rep. Giffords recovers to have a second act.

    For up and comers on the Democratic side, I've had my eye on Gov. Schweitzer in Montana. But I'll admit I'd need a day or two to give you 10 contenders for the 2016 D nomination, assuming neither Joe Biden or Hillary Clinton toss their hat in the ring.

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    1. For VP? I think six year in the House and four in the Senate would have been just fine. And of course she's young, so 2016 wouldn't have been her last mention if she was a Senator.

      (BTW, Quayle was right about having sufficient experience. He just projected it really badly).

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    2. Purely 'drawing room' stuff, but you got me curious enough to check back:

      Dick Cheney (older, 'experienced' contrast choice).. Al Gore (8 in the house, 8 in the Senate).. Quayle (4 in the house, 8 in the Senate).. GHW Bush (14 years various national govt experience).. Mondale (12 years in the Senate)..

      Oddly you have to go back to Spiro Agnew with 2 years as MD Governor to find an elected VP with as little or less 'conventional' experience.

      I could see Giffords as having been a possible choice to contrast her youth with a potential Joe Biden bid, but Greg mentions below, I'm not sure she would have the liberal voting record needed for the ticket if the movement left viewed Biden as they seem to have soured on Obama.

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  2. I'm a cold hearted bastard and I have to admit that I almost teared up watching her last night at SOTU.

    I have to be honest that prior to the shooting, Giffords wasn't really on my radar (though I'm not a pro or anything, just a poli sci grad with an unhealthy obsession with politics) but it seems like she's a bit too conservative to succeed and move up the ladder. Though that may be a part of the fact that she's from Arizona.

    @JS - I think Kelly has already announced that he's not running for her seat.

    Ultimately, I agree that she'll be back and would be seen a a rising star.

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  3. Giffords had definitely been on my radar well before the shooting: She was a notably strong fundraiser, and had one of the most liberal voting records relative to her district in the House--almost certainly one of the very most liberal voting records relative to her district of any Democratic incumbent re-elected in 2010, though Nate's list of major issues doesn't include those where Giffords would have more conservative votes:

    http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/2009/12/2009s-most-valuable-democrat-is.html

    I don't know what her record was on influencing legislation, but even granted that her district's PVI might have been somewhat inflated by McCain's home state effect, that's still a notable accomplishment.

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  4. She was a promising political talent.

    But let's be honest here-- she's not coming back. It took her a long time to get this far, and "this far" is a point where she is still a long way from the point where she can seriously pursue resuming her political career.

    That monster stole her life, and while we can all cheer the strides she made, it's never going to be the same.

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  5. The buzz in AZ already has her running for Governor in 2014 if she's up for it. Who knows with an injury like that but she would be the prohibitive favorite if she continues to make progress.

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