POLITICS

Gabrielle Giffords' Retirement Causes Political Fallout In Arizona

01/26/2012 05:48 pm ET | Updated Mar 27, 2012

With partisan political fever seemingly at an all-time high, every seat counts as the Democratic and Republican parties compete to win control of the U.S. House of Representatives.

This means that despite bipartisan good wishes for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), and a uniting sense of inspiration from her remarkable recovery, the race for the swing seat Giffords' retirement leaves open will be very competitive.

In 2010, Giffords won the Tucson-area seat by just 1.3 percent. Now Republicans are lining up to try to win it back.

Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio), who teared up during Giffords' resignation ceremony Wednesday, said the GOP is well-positioned to win the seat, Politico reports. Already Jesse Kelly, the Tea Party-backed Republican who lost to Giffords in the midterms, has filed to run in the Republican special primary.

Still, if Giffords chooses to endorse a candidate, a backing from the very popular former congresswoman could give Democrats a leg up.

Democrats have said it's too early to tell who will jump in the race, but a few names have been floated: State Sen. Linda Lopez (a friend of Giffords), State Senate Minority Whip Paula Aboud, State Rep. Steve Farley, Pima County Supervisor Ramon Valadez, and businesswoman Nan Stockholm Walden.

Speculation swirled that Giffords' husband, retired astronaut Mark Kelly, would make a bid for the seat, but Kelly said definitively this week that he's not running.

Democrats also floated Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, a former two-term governor of Arizona, but she too said she has no intention of running. On the Republican side, State Sen. Frank Antenori and college sports TV broadcaster Dave Sitton have been named as potential candidates.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has set a special primary election for April, and the special general election will be held in June. No matter who jumps in the race, the district is bound to be closely watched in the coming weeks and months.

More election news from beyond the presidential field:

Republican Ex-Gov. Tommy Thompson leads the pack in Wisconsin's tossup Senate race [AP]

Former Nebraska Gov. Bob Kerrey will announce decision very soon about whether to run for Senate in his home state, and isn't worried about carpetbagger claim [New York Times]

Scott Brown is the second-most bipartisan senator, study says [Boston Globe]

Poll shows trouble for Illinois Rep. Joe Walsh (R), who's trailing a generic Democrat 35 percent to 49 percent [HuffPost]

First he was running for U.S. Senate, then Congress, and now Ed Martin announces he'll run for attorney general in Missouri [STLToday]

With less than a week until Oregon's special election, the knives come out [RollCall]

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