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Mark Kelly Martha McSally Arizona Senate race 2020
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Senate opponents McSally, Kelly take to stage Tuesday for debate

Mark Kelly, left, and Sen. Martha McSally. (KTAR News Photos)

PHOENIX – Incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Martha McSally and challenger Mark Kelly will finally meet in person to debate Tuesday after months of swinging at each other in campaign ads.

It is the only debate scheduled between the two. The 90-minute debate begins at 7 p.m. and will be carried live by Arizona PBS, KJZZ and Arizona Public Media. AZCentral.com will livestream it.

Kelly has blasted McSally on her health care record and the retired Air Force fighter pilot has gone after the former astronaut over his ties to a company in China.

“I think you’ll see a lot of fire out of Martha McSally in the debate,” Phoenix-based Copper State Consulting political expert Emily Ryan told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Tuesday.

McSally has trailed in every poll since the start of September, according to tracking by aggregate website FiveThirtyEight.

Margins have fluctuated between 1 and 17 points, the site showed.


Kelly was ahead by 11 percentage points in a New York Times-Siena College poll released Monday.

“Martha McSally doesn’t just need to win over undecided voters, she likely needs to win over voters who have already made up their minds for Mark Kelly,” FiveThirtyEight’s Galen Druke told Arizona’s Morning News hours before the debate.

“And that is a tall order,” he said.

Druke said the website gives Kelly “an 80% chance of winning this race. This is one of the Democrats’ likeliest seats that they will flip.”

If Republicans hold the seat, they will be on track to keep their majority.

Hot topics for the debate will probably include the economy, the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and health care.

The public can submit potential questions online.

McSally and Kelly will trade opinions a day before Vice President Mike Pence and Democratic candidate Kamala Harris square off in a debate, which will be carried live on KTAR News 92.3 FM, KTAR.com and the KTAR News app, starting at 6 p.m.

In-person early voting begins in Arizona on Wednesday and election officials around the state will begin sending out absentee ballots by mail the same day.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Jim Cross and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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