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Husband not ready to run as Giffords steps down

The husband of Gabrielle Giffords, the Arizona congresswoman who is standing down while she recovers after being shot in the head, has confirmed he will not run for his wife's seat this year.

Ms Giffords announced her resignation from Congress on Sunday after surviving an assassination attempt in Tucson last year. The announcement prompted speculation that her husband Mark Kelly, a retired Nasa astronaut, may seek her seat, but he confirmed that he would not do so during a speech at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln on Monday.

"I think Gabby's staff made it very clear to the Arizona newspapers when they said 'he will not be a candidate for Congress in 2012'," he said. Mr Kelly said he planned to focus his attentions on his wife's health, but did not rule out seeking office at a later date. Ms Giffords vowed to return to public life in her resignation announcement, which she delivered as a video message posted on her website. "I will return, and we will work together for Arizona and this great country," she said.

Ms Giffords spent her last hours in office finishing the meet-and-greet she started on 8 January 2011 which ended when a gunman opened fire, shooting her in the head, killing six people, including a nine-year-old girl, and injuring 13 others. The Arizona Democrat's departure means a special election will be held in around 90 days to elect a new representative.

Mr Kelly was invited to be a guest in Michelle Obama's box at the President's State of the Union address yesterday, which was also attended by Ms Giffords.