Online efforts to replace Giffords called futile

TUCSON, AZ (KOLD) - Four and a half months after the Tucson shooting that killed six people and injured 13, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, a group is working to get her out of office.

Since March 20, when an online petition - Proclamation that Arizona's Congressional District #8 is Vacant - was posted, 165 have people signed it in an attempt to get Giffords out of her seat in the House of Representatives.

"When it first came out I didn't want anything to do with it because I didn't know what was going on with her," Lori Weaver said.

Weaver didn't sign the petition right away, but two and a half months after the shooting she did.

Weaver explained, "I do feel guilty because I feel like I'm kicking a woman who is already down."

Weaver says she's not anti-Giffords or anti-Democrat, she says she supports the congresswoman as a person and even wears "Get Well Gabby" bracelets on her wrist.  But at this point, she feels someone else should fill her seat.

"She can barely help herself, how is she supposed to help us and I think she needs to focus on herself and her recovery."

The online petition is aimed at Gov. Jan Brewer, asking her to open up the seat.

But that's not in her power, said Peter Goudinoff, a retired political science professor and former state legislator.

"These people need to read the Constitution. The Constitution governs this and there's only three ways a representative can be removed. Either they resign, they die or they are expelled, two-thirds of the house can expel any member."

He says this group can collect as many signatures as they want, but it won't make a difference.

"I think it's really unbecoming," Goudinoff said,  "And I actually hope they get maximum exposure so that the people in the community can cast judgment upon them."

Lori Oien signed the petition.

"At some point I think she needs to step aside and say 'OK if I am well enough I will come back.  But if I'm not, I need to give it up now.' "

Oien says she's knows what the doctors are saying about the congresswoman's recovery, but she needs more information to know when Giffords could possibly get back to work.

"I'm so thankful that she's progressing," Oien added.  "But I think we need to get on with business at hand and her constituents need service."

Days after the Jan. 8 shooting Giffords' office re-opened for business. Her staff's been serving Congressional District 8 while she recovers.

"Our office is very focused on serving the constituents," said Pia Carusone, Giffords' chief of staff. "We have an 89-year-old constituent who had been working with the VA for a couple years about back payments he was owed. We were able to secure more than $16,000 for a gentleman that's 89."

Lori Weaver said that's not enough.

"I'm glad that they're doing the paperwork and the stuff for the constituents, but it's her vote that counts that's what makes the impact, that's not what's being done."

Giffords hasn't voted since her injury, but she is now a minority member in the 435-member House of Representatives. Goudinoff says her actual impact on the floor is really more symbolic.

He explained the framers of the Constitution designed it that way, so that one person would not be that significant.

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