Retired astronaut and Navy veteran Mark Kelly announced his bid for former Senator John McCain’s Arizona seat on Tuesday morning with a campaign ad framing him as a data-focused problem-solver.
If Kelly prevails in the Democratic primary, he’ll face Republican Senator Martha McSally, who was appointed in December by Republican Governor Doug Ducey to fill McCain’s seat.
In the ad, Kelly presents himself as a team player who would work across partisan divides to address issues like healthcare, wages, job growth, and climate change. He never mentions he’s a Democrat.
My next mission… #FullSpeedAhead #ForArizona pic.twitter.com/5E36z7aztH
– Mark Kelly (@ShuttleCDRKelly)February 12, 2019
“It becomes pretty obvious pretty early when you get into space that we’re all kind of in this together,” Kelly says at the beginning of the 4.5-minute video.
“We’ve seen this retreat from science and data and facts. And if we don’t take these issues seriously we can’t solve these problems. We’re going to need to bring people together from all parts of the state and all walks of life.”
He adds that “partisanship and polarization and gerrymandering and corporate money have ruined our politics.”
Kelly and his wife, former Representative Gabrielle Giffords, have become outspoken gun control advocates in the years since Giffords was shot and nearly killed in a 2011 assassination attempt that killed six and wounded a dozen others.
The ad features Giffords’ years of recovery and Kelly’s role in helping fight for policy change.
“What I learned from my wife is how you use policy to improve people’s lives,” he said. He frames his campaign as a team effort with Giffords.
Kelly will likely face a few challengers in the Democratic primary, including a possible run by Representative Ruben Gallego, an Arizona Democrat serving his third term in the House.
“I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’m looking seriously at running for the US Senate in 2020, and that hasn’t changed,” Gallego said. “I’ll be making a final decision and announcement soon.”
McSally, a former Air Force fighter pilot, lost her 2018 bid for Senate against Democrat Kyrsten Sinema. McSally’s current seat was first filled by former Senator Jon Kyl, who was appointed to fill the role after McCain’s death in August and stepped down at the end of 2018.
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