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Mark Kelly: Negative ads on McSally was not campaign he wanted to run

(Rob Schumacher/The Arizona Republic via AP, Pool)

PHOENIX — The Election is only a few days away, which means the end of the political ads that have dominated screens in Arizona for months about a Senate race that has major ramifications for both political parties.

Democratic challenger Mark Kelly and Republican incumbent Martha McSally spent a combined $65.4 million in the third quarter, per the FEC, with the former doubling his opponent.

The ad blitz strategy between the two differed, with Kelly telling KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Gaydos & Chad on Thursday he focused on the issues with political ads instead of slinging mud at his opponent.

“I don’t want to run that kind of campaign,” Kelly said. “We need to change the political atmosphere in our country. The partisanship, the polarization is at a ridiculously high level and it creates an environment where we can’t solve problems.

“I don’t want to be part of the problem, I want to be part of the solution.”

McSally in ads has accused Kelly of bringing a Chinese communist banner to space with him after Kelly went on a Chinese-government-funded trip, which Kelly denied, among other connections to China.

Kelly said McSally’s strategy is the same she used in 2018 against Kyrsten Sinema, a race McSally lost before being selected by Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey to replace the late Sen. John McCain’s seat.

“It’s unfortunate that again her approach has been to go after her opponent’s patriotism,” Kelly said.

Kelly said he instead focused on the issues Arizonans care about like healthcare and the economy amidst the coronavirus pandemic.

The polls favored Kelly 50%-45% in the OH Predictive Insights’ final survey of the election cycle released Tuesday ahead of next week’s election.

Even if Kelly isn’t chosen by voters to represent the state in the Senate, he says no regrets will be held about not attacking McSally more in political ads.

“I focus on the stuff I can control, I can control my message, I can control what my campaign does,” Kelly said. “I can’t control the other side.

“The most important thing isn’t winning the election, I want to be proud of the campaign and I am.”

Kelly says the nasty political rhetoric and continued partisanship isn’t what the country needs.

“We need folks to work across the aisle in an independent way to get things done to work with the other party like John McCain would, like my wife Gabby (Giffords) would,” Kelly said.

“I don’t think one party can solve some of these challenges that we’re facing, but together as a country, I think we can do anything.”

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