As Democrats go apoplectic over the thought of a challenge to U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in CD 8, it appears there could be a name on the horizon that might soothe their ruffled feathers.
Mark Kelly, Giffords’ astronaut husband is due to retire from his NASA post at the first of October. But within short order after his leave taking, the man who demurred at the thought of replacing his wife in congress will keynote a fundraising event for the AZ Democrat Party.
Earlier speculation about the Houston resident’s political future cooled when he announced that his overriding concern — above all else — was to concentrate on his wife’s recovery from the massive head wound she suffered in a horrific shooting in January. Additionally, we were told he and Giffords intended to co-author a book.
Then there’s that pesky issue of residency that kept rearing its head. But the U.S. Constitution requires only that a candidate for U.S. Representative shall “when elected, be an inhabitant of that state for which he shall be chosen.” The same is true of a candidate for U.S. Senate. That’s it. The noun “inhabitant” is different than the verb “reside.” Kelly’s wife maintains a home in Tucson.
Since his wife’s serious injury and despite her rehab, a key member her staff has moved on, and there is cautious movement within both Democrat and Republican circles regarding the congressional seat Giffords holds. When he left recently, her communications director C.J. Karamargin said “No plans have been made about 2012. She is concentrating, first, on her recovery and there will be plenty of time for politics.”
Mark Kelly has been warmly welcomed into the Obama fold. So the fact that he is the guest speaker for the State Democrats 2011 Volunteer Awards Night a week after his retirement from the space program does fuel the rumor mill. An appearance within the southern Arizona Congressional District confines would be easier to understand. But taking center stage at a state event gives rise to questions regarding his own political future.
In the event you need a hint regarding his political stance, try this on for size. When Pope Benedict XVI made the first ever papal phone call to space — calling shuttle Endeavour’s Commander Kelly, the Pope was told “borders cannot be seen from space.”
House or Senate, which will it be?