Captain Mark Kelly has flown dozens of combat missions over Iraq, worked to expand gun control in a state defined by its “Wild West” image, and spent nearly two months in his life in space. But of all the unlikely accomplishments of his life, Kelly’s victory as the first Democratic candidate in Arizona could surpass them all.
Kelly was declared the winner of one of the nation’s most closely watched Senate races early Wednesday, beating outgoing Senator Martha McSally in a special election victory that has the potential to give Senate control to the Democratic Party for the first time. in six years.
Kelly, who will take office on November 30, will now complete her term until 2023.
A former naval astronaut and aviator, Kelly retired from NASA after the 2011 assassination attempt on his wife, former congressman Gabby Giffords. As Giffords recovered from the shooting, Kelly became a strong advocate for gun law reform, with his wife founding a non-profit organization that campaigns for red flag laws and universal verification. history.
Kelly broke fundraising records when he announced his campaign for the Senate in February 2019 with a four-minute viral video announcing its “next mission”.
“I learned a lot as an astronaut. I learned a lot as a pilot in the navy. I learned a lot about problem-solving as an engineer, ”Kelly said in the video, which grossed over $ 1.1 million within 24 hours of announcing her candidacy. “But what I learned from my wife is how you use policies to improve people’s lives.”
Kelly had held a steady and sizable lead over McSally for months in public polls as Arizona – once a Republican stronghold – began to degrade President Donald Trump. Despite falling Presidential approval ratings in Grand Canyon State and despite widespread disapproval of Gov. Greg Ducey’s decision to appoint her to McCain’s seat after she failed to win on her own there At two years old, McSally clung to Trump like a lost child in a grocery store despite, a political responsibility that likely ended the former MP’s political career for two terms.
McSally, who like Kelly is a former fighter pilot, had worked to distance himself from his relatively centrist legislative record with a tight embrace from Trump – and portraying his opponent as a potential tool for far-left Democrats in the US Senate.
“My race will decide the direction of the country – the radical left can take over in the Senate,” McSally said at a campaign rally in the state less than a week before the election, shortly after Trump l ‘jostled on stage, telling her that the gathered supporters “don’t want to hear this”.
“If you want someone who will be Joe Biden and Chuck Schumer’s 51st vote to take away our freedoms and our Second Amendment rights, then you’ve got a guy named Mark Kelly,” McSally continued. “But if you want to continue to have a fighter who is proud to work with President Trump for the great American comeback and a strong army and secure our borders and Second Amendment rights, then I am your daughter, Arizona. Vote Trump-McSally, save the country! “
Kelly, for her part, followed a proven path to electoral victory for Arizona Democrats statewide, pledging to be an independent voice in a broken Washington, beholden not to donors or party interests, but to the Arizonians.
“Partisan politics has made this crisis worse, and partisan politics and partisan politicians are not going to get us out of this,” Kelly said during a debate with McSally in October. “We need independent leadership focused on solving the problems we face.”
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