Over a year after an assassination attempt in Tucson, Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords announced in a video message yesterday that she will be stepping down from office.
“A lot has happened over the past year. We cannot change that,” she said in the message. “I don’t remember much from that horrible day, but I will never forget the trust you placed in me to be your voice.”
She continued, “Thank you for your prayers and for giving me time to recover. I have more work to do on my recovery. So to do what is best for Arizona, I will step down this week.”
Bipartisan praise has already poured forth for the lawmaker, a Democrat known for bucking Capitol Hill tradition and reaching across the aisle to work with rivals in the Republican Party. House Speaker John Boehner said he “salutes” Giffords for her service and that she will be missed.
Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, who says she spoke yesterday with Giffords’ husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, also offered warm remarks, “Her recovery has been nothing less than a miracle… Who knows what’s going to happen in the next two years. I don’t believe we’ve seen the last of Gabby Giffords.”
President Obama and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi joined in the chorus, as well. “Gabby Giffords embodies the very best of what public service should be,” said Obama. “She’s universally admired for qualities that transcend party or ideology – a dedication to fairness, a willingness to listen to different ideas, and a tireless commitment to the work of perfecting our union.” And Pelosi described Giffords as “a true bright star — a dynamic and creative public servant.”
Giffords promised constituents that she will return to office someday — “I will return and we will work together for Arizona and this great country.” — though did not indicate when that may be. Before she goes, though, Giffords says she will “finish” the Congress on the Corner event where suspect Jared Loughner shot her and 19 others, killing six. She will also attend President Obama’s State of the Union address tomorrow evening before officially submitting her letter of resignation.
Governor Brewer told CNN that she plans to hold a primary in April and then a special election in June to select a person to take over Giffords’ term, which ends next January.