Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who survived a gunshot wound to the head a year ago, said Sunday she would step down from Congress this week, setting off a political scramble in Arizona to fill her seat.
In a video released on YouTube, the Democratic congresswoman said she would resign because she had more work to do on her recovery. “I’m getting better every day,” said Ms. Giffords, speaking audibly but slowly. “My spirit is high.”
The state’s Democratic and Republican party leaders, already grappling with a redistricting plan, rushed to decide who would run for the seat, which will go to the winner of a special election.
“Everything is going to be reshuffled,” said Andrei Cherny, state chair of the Democratic party. “This is starting from scratch for everybody.”
Ms. Giffords’s decision also gives Republican rivals more of a chance to claim the seat, political observers said. Widely admired, Ms. Giffords would have been difficult to beat.
With her departure, “we’re in a situation where the power of incumbency and her popularity are gone,” said Margaret Kenski, a Republican-leaning pollster in Arizona.
… Ms. Giffords, 41 years old, survived a shooting at a constituent meeting in Tucson a year ago. The alleged assailant, Jared Lee Loughner, killed six people and wounded 13 in the shooting spree. Last year, a judge declared Mr. Loughner not competent to stand trial. …