Gabrielle Giffords to Attend Husband's Shuttle Launch -- and Now People Think She's Running for Senate

Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was cleared over the weekend to leave rehab in Texas and fly to Florida to watch her astronaut husband Mark Kelly's shuttle launch less than four months after getting shot "through the brain" during the January 8 Tucson shooting rampage.

Coincidentally, Arizona has a Senate seat opening up with the retirement of Senator Jon Kyl (assuming his retirement announcement was "intended to be a factual statement," that is).

Giffords has made remarkable progress, by all accounts, but can she really mount a legitimate Senate campaign? Democrats sure hope so.

The L.A. Times published an article on its website this morning with the headline "Giffords Return to Public Arena to Spark New Talk About Her Political Future." It makes the case that because Giffords was cleared to watch the launch, Democrats consider her the heir-apparent to Kyl's seat.

Republican Congressman Jeff Flake has announced his candidacy for the Senate seat, and there have been rumblings of other Republicans throwing their hats in the ring, but no Democrats have stepped up to the plate and announced their candidacy.

According to the Federal Election Commission, Giffords' campaign has $556,013 in cash on hand, $358,247 of which was raised between January 1, and March 31 -- as Giffords was recovering from her injuries. 

Candidacy for the seat, it seems, is being left open by Democrats with the hopes that Giffords will be able to run.

Speaking to reporters earlier this month, Washington U.S. Senator Patty Murray, chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said Democrats hope to take the seat and that Giffords is the ideal candidate.

"None of us can predict what Congresswoman Giffords will do, and we are giving her and her family all due respect to recover from a very serious trauma and that's where we should be," Murray said. "But what happened to Gabby Giffords changed the political landscape of Arizona. And I know that we will have a Democratic candidate there."

A Giffords Senate campaign would be a remarkable conclusion to a tragic event, but part of her skull hasn't been replaced after the shooting, and she reportedly gets frustrated by long sentences.