Before shooting, Gabby Giffords eyed higher office, motherhood

As Rep. Gabrielle Giffords prepared to be sworn in for a third term this January, she was already considering the next step in her political career, a run for the U.S. Senate, or perhaps for governor of Arizona.

The 40-year-old Democrat also had more immediate plans: to become a mother.

“Having a baby is really important to me,” Giffords told her husband, Mark Kelly, in December, a conversation recounted in the couple’s newly released book.

Kelly had two children from a previous marriage, and with the busy careers both had, he writes that he “could have gone either way on the question of having a baby.” But seeing how she “yearned to be a mother, I was enveloped by her faith and confidence that everything would work out.”


The couple put off having a child in 2010 because of the tough reelection battle Giffords was waging. The plan, Kelly writes, was for Giffords to be pregnant by Valentine’s Day of this year.

“We couldn’t have fathomed that instead she’d be in a hospital, trying to say the names of simple objects.”

Giffords was shot in the head during a shooting rampage at an event for her constituents Jan. 8. She had just been sworn in for a third term, with plans also developing to perhaps run for a higher office.

Her interest in a possible Senate bid was well-known. Even after the shooting, Giffords was long discussed as a potential candidate. But Kelly reveals that she also thought about running for governor in 2014 against incumbent Jan Brewer.


Giffords was troubled by Brewer’s support for Senate Bill 1070, the state’s controversial illegal immigration law. Kelly says she had worked in her career to find ways to secure the border, and thought the law “damaged her state’s reputation.”

“A part of Gabby felt a calling to run for governor, to do what she could to improve policies ... that she considered destructive,” Kelly writes.

“I don’t know that I could win the governor’s race or a Senate seat,” Giffords told her husband. “But someone has to do something for the sake of Arizona. Maybe I’m the someone.”

As for Kelly, now a retired Navy captain, Giffords also had a title in mind: chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.


“That’s not a very realistic idea,” Kelly told his wife. “Well, you’d be great,” she responded.