Supporters from around the country have donated about $358,000 to the re-election campaign of Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in the event she attempts to seek political office again.
Giffords was critically wounded by a gunshot to the head in January during a shooting rampage in Tucson. She has been undergoing extensive therapy in Houston and it’s unknown whether she’ll be able to resume her duties or seek elective office again.
But supporters want to be ready just in case. Colleagues organized a fundraiser on her behalf in March.
Her campaign’s fundraising report shows that political action committees generated about two-thirds of the donations during the first quarter of 2011. The other third came from individuals, many from the Tucson area.
“Until Gabby tells me she’s not running, she’s running,” said Joan Kaye Cauthorn of Tucson, a longtime supporter who donated in March.
In all, her campaign has about $556,000 in the bank.
Giffords has spent nearly three months undergoing intense therapy at TIRR Memorial Hermann in Houston. She is hoping to attend the late-April launch of the space shuttle Endeavor. Her husband, Mark Kelly, is the flight’s commander. Doctors overseeing her recovery will have the final word on whether she can attend.
Jessica Schultz, Giffords’ political director, said that her campaign staff has not actively sought donations since the shooting.
“She’s been focused on her recovery, and her friends and colleagues have really stepped up to ensure that she’ll have the resources she needs when she returns to work,” Schultz said. “It’s very much to keep her options open so she can make that kind of decision once she’s better.”