Giffords told staff she would run if Kyl retired

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) had informed staff that she would run for Senate if Sen. Jon Kyl (R) were to retire, a source said Thursday.

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Giffords, the third-term congresswoman who was the survivor of a Jan. 8 assassination attempt, told her staff in early January that she would run for Senate in 2012 if Kyl were to retire, according to an Arizona Democratic insider with close ties to the Giffords office.

There's no indication as to what Giffords's intentions might have been had Kyl decided to seek reelection, the source said. Kyl announced on Thursday that he would retire at the end of his term.

A Democratic strategist with knowledge of her thinking at the time says before the shooting Giffords was seriously looking at a Senate run and Democrats anticipated that she could have launched a bid for the seat even if Kyl opted for reelection.

There's also been no indication as to whether Giffords might run in 2012 if her recovery were to progress fast enough. Her recovery is still the bigest question and Democrats are very cautiously noting that Election Day is still nearly two years away.

"If she decides to run, she's a strong fundraiser and highly-respected public servant," the source said.