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Giffords campaign spending like she’s running

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., prepares to enter a car as she leaves the U.S. Capitol after a vote on debt legislation on Capitol Hill in Washington, on Monday, Aug. 1, 2011. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Despite lingering questions over whether she will seek re-election, U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ campaign is raising and spending the kind of money that some observers say is a clear indication she’s gearing up to return to Congress.

Giffords’ campaign has so far raised about $830,000 in the election cycle, and spent nearly $330,000 — or about 40 percent of what she has collected, her campaign finance reports showed.

In fact, her campaign has raised more in this cycle compared to the same time in 2009, when there was no doubt she wanted to keep her seat.

Also, her campaign spending nearly doubled in this cycle compared to the same time two years ago.

Between July and September, Giffords raised roughly $189,000 and spent more than half of it.

Her latest campaign finance report indicates a well-oiled fundraising machine. Her campaign has at least three paid staffers and has paid thousands of dollars to fundraising consultants.

Kurt Davis, a Republican political consultant, said the question really isn’t whether she’s going to run for Congress.

“I think the question is: What is she going to run for?” he said.

“I think it’s a foregone conclusion that she will run for Congress, at a minimum, and that there’s obviously a significant chance she could run for the U.S. Senate seat.”

Giffords’ name recognition following the January assassination attempt affords her the luxury of entering any race late, Davis said.

Beyond her fundraising numbers, Davis pointed to several signs indicating her return to Congress, including her unexpected return to Congress in August to cast a vote on legislation to raise the debt ceiling and the fact that her congressional staff is largely intact.

However, her public appearances have been very limited, and she has yet to officially declare what she wants to do.

Her congressional office said no decision has been made about Giffords’ political future.

“It’s up to her to make it when she’s ready to make it,” said Mark Kimble, her spokesman.

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