While Arizona typically had Republicans representing them in the United States Senate, they weren’t hardliners. The late Senator John McCain, for example, was notoriously squishy and former Senate Jeff Flake really lived up to his name. While Martha McSally is a Republican holding a Senate seat, she was appointed to the role after losing her initial Senate bid to Democrat Krysten Sinema.
Now, former astronaut turned anti-gun activist Mark Kelly thinks the time is right for him to do more than talk stupid on guns.
Retired astronaut Mark Kelly, who became a prominent gun-control advocate after his wife, former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, was shot in a failed assassination attempt, announced Tuesday he will run to finish Arizonan John McCain’s last term in the U.S. Senate. Last month Kelly was in Denver to help launch Colorado Gun Owners for Safety.
Kelly, 54, is a top Democratic recruit to take on Arizona Republican Martha McSally in one of the most closely contested Senate races of the 2020 election.
McSally is a former Republican congresswoman who was appointed to McCain’s seat last year after she narrowly lost to Democrat Kyrsten Sinema. McSally leaned heavily on her record as the first woman to fly a combat mission as a fighter pilot, but she was hurt by her embrace of President Donald Trump.
If Kelly is nominated, the race would pit a Navy veteran and astronaut against a trailblazing Air Force pilot in the contest to replace McCain, a legendary Navy flyer who was famously shot down and held captive.
The 2020 election will decide who finishes the last two years of McCain’s term. The winner would have to run again for a full six-year term in 2022.
Of course, missing from the article is any mention of Kelly’s policy positions on anything other than guns.
While Sinema won in the state, it doesn’t mean Kelly’s candidacy is a slam dunk. After all, Sinema ran a fairly moderate campaign with the understanding that she was running in a fairly conservative state. Despite her past as a hardline leftist, she took a centrist tone.
Kelly may be able to do that on topics outside of gun control, but that’s doubtful. After all, he’s spent so much time focusing on guns with a vehemence rarely seen outside of the extreme Left. It’s difficult to imagine he can tone down that rhetoric for other policy positions.
The upside is that it may well mean McSally would have little trouble retaining her seat. While Sinema defeated her, it was a closely fought race that some feel was stolen from the Air Force veteran. True or not, she does already have a broad base of support, one that Kelly doesn’t have in place already.
Further working against Kelly is the fact that he’s never held public office. While some might point to New York’s Alexandria Occasio-Cortez as proof, that means very little. She’s an anomaly that proves nothing and her antics since taking office is unlikely to inspire confidence in anyone.
The truth is, Kelly is going to get a lot of attention, but he has little to offer right now. The biggest thing working for him is how the DNC appears to have his back. In Arizona, though, that might be a hindrance.