WASHINGTON (AP) — Dozens of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ colleagues showed their support Tuesday by making sure she has enough money if she seeks political office again.
The Democratic lawmakers attended a campaign fundraiser on Giffords’ behalf and voiced confidence that the Arizonan would return to Congress. In the meantime, as Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida said, they wanted to demonstrate that “we have her back.”
“We’re going to make sure that when she does come back, she has the resources she needs to hit the ground running,” said Wasserman Schultz, one of three Democrats serving as chairmen for the fundraiser.
Giffords was gravely wounded in a Jan. 8 shooting rampage in Tucson as she and members of her staff visited with constituents at a shopping center. The shootings killed six and wounded 13.
The attack occurred just two months after she narrowly won re-election by 4,156 votes in Arizona’s 8th Congressional District. Competitive races often are very expensive and Giffords’ was no exception. She spent nearly $3.7 million in the last election and had about $285,000 in the bank at the end of the year.
Giffords also has been discussed as a potential Senate candidate because of the retirement of Republican Sen. Jon Kyl.
Still, it remains unknown when she will be well enough to return to work. In the latest update, Giffords’ doctors said Friday that her ability to walk and talk has improved and they had removed her breathing tube.
“All reports are extraordinarily encouraging and this is a moment for us to demonstrate our faith, our confidence and our good wishes,” said Rep. Steve Israel of New York as he got ready to enter the event, which was held outside the headquarters of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.
The fundraiser was closed to the public and the media. Organizers said that financial support was coming in from Arizona as well as Washington.
“There’s people all over the country since the Tucson tragedy that have wanted to know a way they could help. This event has been that outlet, I think, for a lot of people,” Wasserman Schultz said.
Rep. John Larson of Connecticut said the fundraiser was a reflection of the political reality that closely fought districts require a lot of money, especially when “outside sources can pour in millions of dollars undisclosed.”
“As much as we would like it to be otherwise, this is necessary,” Larson said. “This is a labor of love for someone who is dearly loved.”