What's Next for iVillage Woman of the Year Gabby Giffords?

Whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat or somewhere in between, it’s probably safe to say that you’ve been rooting for U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. Her remarkable story of endurance and courage on her road to recovery following the devastating shooting and assassination attempt one year ago led many people to wonder whether it just might be possible for her to resume her congressional duties and whether she might even run for re-election in 2012. There was even some speculation that Giffords would entertain a run for U.S. Senate.

But while her progress has been nothing short of remarkable, Giffords has announced that she will resign from her Arizona congressional seat after the President’s State of the Union address, allowing her to focus on her ongoing physical recovery.

In a video released this weekend, speaking much more clearly than in the TV interview she did with her husband Mark Kelly in November, Giffords said her decision was the best one for her and her constituents. She thanked supporters for their prayers, saying, “I have more work to do on my recovery, so [stepping down was] best for Arizona,” rather than waiting until her re-election filing deadline in May.

One of Giffords’ best friends, U.S. Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, commented on Giffords’ decision on her own congressional website:

“Gabby has had such a positive impact on our nation.  ven in announcing her resignation, she reminds us that ‘we can do so much more by working together.’ We will miss Gabby’s spirit in Congress and I will miss working with my friend day-to-day, but I am confident that she will return to public service and we can all work together for America.”

Giffords did tip her hat about her future in her video, saying that she “will return.” It’s hard to know what that means, but Giffords’ best Capitol Hill friends Wasserman Schultz and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York have been holding fundraisers for Giffords potential future campaigns since the shooting, giving her the option of getting back into a world where a candidate needs money, as well as voter support, to win.

Women make up less than 17 percent of the U.S. Congress, so that’s one reason I’m sad to see Giffords leave. But I’m even sadder to see someone leave Washington who understands the desperate need for bipartisan compromise and who was able to actually make that happen.

Watch why we named Giffords the iVillage Woman of 2011!

You can read more from iVillage contributor Joanne Bamberger at her blog,
PunditMom. Joanne is also the author of Mothers of Intention: How Women and Social Media are Revolutionizing Politics in America, which is on sale now at Amazon.com.

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