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Sen. Martha McSally challenges Mark Kelly to 7 debates

(AP photos)

PHOENIX – U.S. Sen. Martha McSally of Arizona has challenged Democratic rival Mark Kelly to a series of seven debates before November’s general election.

“This race in Arizona will decide the Senate majority,” the Republican said Wednesday on KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show. “Arizona voters deserve to know where he stands.”

McSally’s campaign said the senator has agreed to three debates in Phoenix and Tucson, with dates to be determined, hosted by a group of Arizona media outlets. McSally also is seeking three debates in rural Arizona — in Yavapai and Yuma counties and on Navajo Nation — plus one with a national network.

The Arizona Republic, one of the outlets in the Phoenix/Tucson host group, reported that Kelly agreed to a debate in Phoenix on Oct. 6.

When asked about Kelly’s debate commitment, his campaign manager, Jen Cox, told KTAR News in an email that he’d agreed to one Phoenix event “and plans to participate in an additional debate with Univision to ensure that all Arizonans hear from Mark about what is at stake this election.”

Kelly told ABC15, “I think it’s very important that we have a robust debate about the issues … and we will do that.”

McSally was handily beating Daniel McCarthy in the GOP primary, garnering 76% of the votes to his 24%, in preliminary results as of Wednesday morning.

She accused Kelly, who was unopposed in the primary, of “hiding in a bunker pretending he’s not a Democrat.”

McSally lost her first run at a Senate seat in 2018, when Kyrsten Sinema of Phoenix became the first Democrat in the state to win a Senate seat in 30 years.

McSally was then appointed by Gov. Doug Ducey to finish out the term of Sen. John McCain, who died in August 2018.

November’s winner would face another election in 2022 to keep the seat for a full six-year term.

If Kelly wins the general election, it would be the first time Democrats held both of Arizona’s Senate seats since Barry Goldwater took office in 1953.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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