Top 10 Rising Power Players in the New Congress

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7) Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ)

As the Arizona Republican Party sees it, there is only one Democratic official left in the Grand Canyon State who could give them heartburn: Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. The 40-year-old congresswoman is very well-liked by many in the Washington community, and veteran members of the Capitol Hill press corps say she is one of the most impressive rising members they've seen in a while. First elected in 2006, she's a proven political fighter who dispatched the state Senate President Tim Bee in 2008 by a 15-percent margin. Two years later, she hung on for a narrow victory in what was one of the worst midterm cycles for Democrats in recent memory.

Giffords has been mentioned as a potential challenger to the state's junior senator, Jon Kyl, the Republican whip in the upper chamber, but look for her to pass on that race in 2012. Instead, expect Giffords to be at the top of the list of Democratic gubernatorial candidates in 2014. Giffords represents a border-area district that encompasses Tucson. As a result, she has been active on immigration legislation in the House. She's certain to be a major player next year when Congress again begins to consider its options on the issue.

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