The halls of power in Washington, D.C., are a strange place, she said.

“In Washington there are meetings about briefs, briefings about hearings, negotiations about proceedings, parliamentary games and many, many agendas,” U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-CD8) told members of the Tucson Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce last Friday.

The group met in a ballroom at the Hilton El Conquistador in Oro Valley to hear the congresswoman’s annual State of the District speech.

And, during a half-hour speech, Giffords sought to distance herself from the partisan gamesmanship she sees in Washington. She talked of her role in the recent passage of an economic stimulus package, her attempts to shield Marana from the bureaucratic machinations of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, her support of high-tech research programs at the University of Arizona, her strong alliance with the more moderate camps in business and politics and the “toxic topic” of illegal immigration.

“In Washington there is a lot of talking, but not a lot of listening,” Giffords said. “The distance between Washington, D.C., and Southern Arizona is a lot more than 3,000 miles.”

The congresswoman has raised $1.91 million for her re-election effort, according to her latest campaign finance report, which she filed March 31.

She faces a two-pronged challenge in the form of state Senate President Tim Bee (R-Tucson), who has risen to power on the basis of his own moderate credentials, and young, independent upstart Derek Tidball, an Army veteran.

Throughout her talk to the Tucson Chamber, Giffords spoke of her ability to reach across partisan divides to pass legislation, particular the recent economic stimulus package, which, for most people, will come in the form of tax rebates.

About 2.3 million Arizonans will receive the federal tax break this year, the congresswoman said.

And, to further combat the national recession, Giffords in late-March signed on to co-sponsor the proposed Housing Assistance Tax Act, which will provide down payment assistance to first-time home buyers through tax credits.

Giffords, however, stopped short of offering her support to many who got caught up in the exotic, risky mortgages that have led to Arizona being one of five state that lead the nation in the number of home foreclosures.

To round out her speech, Giffords made note of her effort to prevent FEMA from creating maps that put much of eastern Marana and part of Oro Valley in flood zones, a move that irked many local officials in the mostly desert stretches of those towns.

Giffords also pushed her latest political agenda of securing federal research funding for the state’s most abundant energy source: solar power.

Giffords, for the most part, looked to shore up her support in the business community, which helped propel her to victory in November 2006.

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