Arizona Dem: Having Giffords on the ballot more helpful than Obama

Having President Obama on the ballot next year won't make it easier for Democrats to win in Arizona, but a Senate run by Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) could drive up turnout, according former Rep. Ann KirkpatrickAnn KirkpatrickSheldon Adelson gives .2M to super PAC supporting McCain Dems seek cash to expand Senate map Democrats on the Senate: We got this MORE

The Arizona Democrat, who represented the state's 1st district for a single term, is seeking a rematch with Rep. Paul GosarPaul GosarLawmakers seek answers on Pentagon employees' casino, strip club charges House conservatives are winning Ryan faces new pressures from House conservatives MORE (R-Ariz.), who defeated her by 6 points last year.

Observers expect Obama's reelection campaign to increase Democrat turnout around the country, but Kirkpatrick was doubtful it would help her chances. 

"I don't think it does," she said. "In my district in 2008 I got more votes than [Sen. John] McCain. I don't think [Obama's] a big factor."

Giffords is in Florida Sunday ahead of the launch of the Shuttle Endeavour, which will be commanded by her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly.

She was considering a Senate bid before she was shot by a gunman in a January attack. She remains in rehabilitation and it's unclear if she will recover to mount a run for retiring Sen. Jon Kyl's (R-Ariz.) seat in 2012.

Kirkpatrick said she considers Giffords, who she also served with in the state Legislation, "a mentor" but wasn't sure if she'll mount a bid.

"It'll be her decision as to what she runs for and it'll be her timeline," she said. "I think it could be helpful [if she runs]. She's extremely popular in the state right now. She's a very, very good congresswoman. She'll be a wonderful senator, if she chooses to do that."

Kirkpatrick, who was in Washington last week preparing for her grudge match with Gosar, said she expected to have more ammunition to use against the Republican in their second campaign.

"He has a record," she said. "People really didn't know what his true agenda was [in 2010], but they do now, and it's focusing on toeing the national party line and not addressing the priorities of the district."