The past year has been a complete whirlwind for Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. Just a year ago she, along with two others who died, was the victim of a horrific shooting at a ‘Congress on Your Corner’ meet-and-greet event outside a grocery store in Tucson, Ariz. leaving her with injuries and serious brain damage. Six months after publicly addressing her constituents and making sure to a get a vote on the nation’s debt ceiling, Giffords has decided to step down from her position in the House. She made the announcement via her website in a video stating, “I don’t remember much from that horrible day, but I will never forget the trust you placed in me to be your voice. Thank you for your prayers and for giving me time to recover. I have more work to do on my recovery, so to do what is best for Arizona I will step down this week.”

Giffords also alludes to returning to elective office, although her departure will solicit a special election in the next few months. Some have speculated that her husband, retired astronaut Mark Kelly will take her place, but close sources say he’s not likely and is focused on his wife’s recovery. As expected, there are several Democrat and Republican candidates who have an interest in running for her now vacant seat, as Giffords swing district is near the US-Mexican border.

How much might the absence of Gabrielle Giffords change Arizona’s political climate this election year?