Sunlight Foundation Reporting Group: Gabrielle Giffords leaves Congress with a big war chest

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., may be taking her name off her congressional office and the 2012 ballot, but that doesn’t mean she can’t be a player in a state that will be one of the top political battlegrounds this year.

The congresswoman’s announcement that she will be giving up her House seat this week to focus on her recovery from a gunshot wound leaves her sitting on an impressive campaign fund, which she can save to relaunch her political career or bestow on other candidates and campaigns, a traditional way for politicians to stockpile goodwill.

Giffords, a resilient campaigner and prolific fundraiser during her three successful campaigns to win a Republican-leaning district, had nearly $879,000 in her campaign account as of Sept. 30, well above the average for House candidates — $611,000, as calculated by the Center for Responsive Politics.

Among Arizona’s members of Congress, the only two with larger warchests are Reps. Jeff Flake, a Republican, who is running for Senate, and Ed Pastor, a Democrat who is thinking of doing so.

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