ARIZONA NEWS

Political experts say Mark Kelly’s Senate run will challenge Republicans

Feb 12, 2019, 8:38 AM | Updated: 10:03 am
Astronaut Mark Kelly (ret.) waves as he takes the stage to introduce his wife, former Rep. Gabby Gi...

Astronaut Mark Kelly (ret.) waves as he takes the stage to introduce his wife, former Rep. Gabby Giffords, D-Ariz,, during the third day session of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Wednesday, July 27, 2016. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

PHOENIX — A number of political analysts say Mark Kelly’s announcement that he would seek the Democratic seat for U.S. Senate will pose a major challenge to Republicans.

Kelly, a former NASA astronaut and the husband of former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, on Tuesday became the first person to declare candidacy for the late U.S. Sen. John McCain’s seat in next year’s special election.

Copper State Consulting Group’s Stan Barnes told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Arizona’s Morning News on Tuesday that Kelly is a good nominee because he is more moderate than other Democrats who are rumored to run for the seat, like U.S. Rep. Ruben Gallego.

“Democrats can’t win statewide and run as Democrats. They certainly can’t run as California Democrats. They have to run as Arizonans,” Barnes said.

“And that’s Mark Kelly’s chief attribute, I think. I don’t think of him as a partisan person, and everyone loves an astronaut. So he starts out in a good spot.”

A source close to Gallego told KTAR News in January that he was “very interested” in running for Senate, and the Democratic congressman tweeted Tuesday that he would make an announcement soon.

In an interview with Arizona’s Morning News, political consultant Alex Castellanos pointed to Kelly’s history as a U.S. Navy captain as one of the most appealing aspects for voters.

Kelly’s “military record will help moderate him” and will help him “look less extreme” against the Democrats who are running for president, Castellanos said.

“It’s going to be tough for (U.S. Sen. Martha) McSally to deal with,” he added.

Another political analyst, Emily Ryan, said Kelly will be the candidate who will make the Republican party the “most nervous.

“He’s just got the credentials like we haven’t seen before. If he comes at it from an Arizona perspective, he will be a very scary candidate for Republicans to face,” she told KTAR News. 

While Kelly has been an outspoken gun control advocate since his wife survived an assassination attempt in Tucson in 2011, KTAR News‘ political analyst Mike O’Neil said he does not believe his position will hurt him with voters.

“The (National Rifle Association) will paint him as someone who wants to confiscate guns, which is not his position,” he said.

“As long as he keeps the issue to gun safety and reasonable regulation, he’s got a clear majority (of voters) with him.”

If Kelly were to win the seat, he would likely run against McSally, who was appointed to the seat in December after Jon Kyl stepped down.

But Barnes said that, while running for Senate, Kelly will have to deal with a whole new batch of criticisms and attacks that he has not seen during his time as a gun safety advocate.

“The test of these campaigns is real, and we’ll see if he has the mettle,” Barnes said.

“Being an astronaut proves you’ve got something special, but when it comes to taking those arrows in the public square and…putting up with the punches to the face that come at you, metaphorically, in this very tough environment is going to be a new experience for Mark Kelly,” he added.

“We’ll have to see what he does.”

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Jeremy Foster and Jim Cross contributed to this report. 

Lifetime Windows & Doors

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

(Cronkite News File Photo/Hope O’Brien)...
Morgan Fischer | Cronkite News

Arizona near bottom of K-12 student spending list for 2020, Census says

Arizona was again among the worst states in the nation for per pupil spending on K-12 education in 2020, and advocates aren't surprised.
8 hours ago
Marnee Spierer (Cancer Treatment Centers of America Photo)...
Taylor Kinnerup

Valley oncologist opts for double mastectomy to avoid family history of cancer

May is National Women's Health Month and one Valley oncologist opted for a double mastectomy as a way to minimize her risk of breast cancer and take control of her health.
8 hours ago
(Pexels Photo)...
Taylor Tasler

Arizona schools chief Hoffman concerned about staffing next fall amid teacher shortage

Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman said Monday she’s worried there won’t be enough teachers for next school year amid a shortage.
8 hours ago
(City of Glendale Rendering)...
Balin Overstolz-McNair

New resort in Glendale’s Westgate area won’t be issue for water supply, city says

A new water resort coming to the Westgate area in Glendale won't be an issue for water supply as it will use less than the current agricultural land it is being built on, the city said.
8 hours ago
(Pexels Photo)...
KTAR.com

Phoenix-area weather expected to take leap to 106 degrees this week

Just in time for Heat Awareness Week, the mercury is climbing in metro Phoenix and could reach 106 degrees late in the week, weather watchers said.
8 hours ago
(Arizona Humane Society Photo)...
Danny Shapiro

Arizona Humane Society rescues pig and chihuahua duo named Timon and Pumbaa

The Arizona Humane Society has rescued an unlikely pair of best buddies that won't be separated any time soon.
8 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

Update your child’s vaccines before kindergarten

So, your little one starts kindergarten soon. How exciting! You still have a few months before the school year starts, so now’s the time to make sure students-to-be have the vaccines needed to stay safe as they head into a new chapter of life.
...
Day & Night Air

Tips to lower your energy bill in the Arizona heat

Does your summer electric bill make you groan? Are you looking for effective ways to reduce your bill?
...
Arizona Division of Problem Gambling

Arizona Division of Problem Gambling provides exclusion solution for young sports bettors

Sports betting in Arizona opened a new world to young adults, one where putting down money on games was as easy as sending a text message.
Political experts say Mark Kelly’s Senate run will challenge Republicans