Mark Kelly, the astronaut husband of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), is retiring to be by his wife's side as she recovers from the near-fatal wound she suffered in the January Tucson shootings. The former space shuttle commander, recently returned from his last mission, says he also hopes to serve his country again in the future, fueling speculation that he might move from Houston to Tucson and run for the Arizona Senate seat that will be open in 2012 as Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) retires. Though Kelly has a slim political C.V., questionably qualified spouses have often taken over political jobs from their better halves. Should Kelly run?
Yes. And he could win: Even before the shooting, Giffords was seen as a potential Senate candidate, says Keith Laing at The Hill. But if her recovery isn't far enough along in 2012 to enable her to run, "Kelly would be the leading choice for Democrats." He has "high name recognition " after commanding the final flight of the Space Shuttle Endeavour, and the "general good will he has accumulated in the wake of the January assassination attempt on Giffords" would help, too.
"Mark Kelly to retire, generating Senate buzz"
Let's just focus on Giffords: It's inappropriate to worry about whether Giffords will be able to run, says Margaret Hartmann at Jezebel. And it's "still premature, but somewhat less gauche," to speculate about Kelly's 2012 prospects. "A Gulf War veteran turned astronaut would certainly make an attractive candidate even if he wasn't married to a beloved representative injured on the job," but Kelly's surely more concerned about Giffords' recovery right now. We all should be.
"Will Gabrielle Giffords' husband run for her congressional seat?"
Plus, such early speculation is meaningless: Giffords and Kelly just announced they would be writing a memoir together, says Amanda Chatel at The Grindstone. "If history tells us anything it's that writing a book — a.k.a. keeping yourself in the spotlight — is usually a tell-tale sign that someone is running for office, or at least considering it." But the truth is nobody — not even Kelly — knows what will happen in 2012. Idle speculation gives people something to do before election season, but it doesn't mean anything this far out.
"Will Mark Kelly follow in his wife's footsteps and run for Senate?"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- How U.S. special forces are preparing for the worst-case scenario in North Korea
- Here's the schedule very successful people follow every day
- I hate Ayn Rand — but here's why my fellow conservatives love her
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- The best online movies to watch this weekend
- The 11 worst fast food restaurants in America
- The biggest lesson Obama failed to learn from Bush
- The danger of the Democrats' lack of desperation
- The secret to Gabrielle Hamilton's amazing grilled cheese sandwiches
- Hey, Paul Ryan's new poverty plan isn't completely terrible!
Subscribe to the Week