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Astronaut Mark Kelly To RUN FOR CONGRESS

by | Feb 24, 2019 | Breaking News, Current Events, Government, News, Politics | 0 comments

Retired astronaut Mark Kelly kicked off a “mission for Arizona” Saturday as he launched his U.S. Senate campaign with a rally in Tucson, the city where his wife, Gabrielle Giffords, survived a shooting when she was a congresswoman. That attack in 2011 led Kelly to leave NASA and become a political activist, pushing for gun control.

Kelly, who has never held elected office, is the first Democrat to enter the 2020 race. The seat is now held by Republican Martha McSally, a former congresswoman and Air Force pilot who was appointed by Arizona’s GOP governor after longtime GOP Sen. John McCain died.

Next year’s election will decide who finishes the final two years of McCain’s term. It’s expected to be closely contested, with Arizona increasingly competitive after decades of Republican dominance.

The campaign, Kelly said, is “a mission to lift up hardworking Arizonans, make Arizona safe and secure, give every family in this state access to affordable health care and grow wages for our middle class.”

He spoke to several hundred supporters on the patio of a historic hotel in downtown Tucson about nine miles from the grocery store where Giffords was shot in the head and six people died during a constituent event on Jan. 8, 2011.

“The shooting changed both of our lives — dramatically, negatively and permanently,” Kelly said. “Like so many families, we were knocked to the ground in a drastic and unexpected way. But we got up.”

Kelly cast himself as a moderate in his speech, listing climate change, immigration and gun control as areas on which he would focus.

“If we continue to stay so focused on partisanship and partisan politics in this country, we’re going to have a hard time solving our biggest problems,” he said.

He listed climate change, health care and college affordability, gun violence and immigration as issues on which he’d focus.

He said he raised more than $1 million in the first 24 hours after his announcement Feb. 12 that he was running.

U.S. Rep. Ruben Gallego of Phoenix, who has strong ties to Democratic activists, also is considering a run.

Kelly has signaled he plans to run a centrist campaign.

“If we continue to stay so focused on partisanship and partisan politics in this country, we’re going to have a hard time solving our biggest problems,” he said.

Kelly flew combat missions during the first Gulf War and was a Navy test pilot before becoming an astronaut along with his twin brother, Scott. Mark Kelly flew four space missions over 10 years and commanded the Space Shuttle Endeavor in 2011.

Kelly may face a primary challenge for the Democratic Senate nomination in Arizona, as Rep. Ruben Gallego (D), who is based in Phoenix and has strong ties to grass-roots activists, is also considering a run.

Democrats are hopeful that Kelly could put up a strong showing in a state that has been trending left in recent years, electing former Rep. Kyrsten Sinema in November as its first Democratic senator since 1988.

McSally was appointed to her Senate seat late last year following the death of longtime Sen. John McCain (R). Next year’s electoral contest will determine who fills the Senate seat for the final two years of the term.

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