Democrat Mark Kelly projected to retain seat as US senator from Arizona

Nov 13, 2022, 3:10 PM | Updated: 4:04 pm

(AP Photo/Alberto Mariani)...

(AP Photo/Alberto Mariani)

(AP Photo/Alberto Mariani)

PHOENIX — Arizona voters have decided to keep Mark Kelly around as U.S. senator.

The Democrat and former astronaut is projected to defeat Republican challenger Blake Masters in Tuesday’s election. The Associated Press and other outlets called the race Friday night.

Kelly had 51.9% and led by 134,030 votes in the latest results, according to the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office.

“Thank you to the people of Arizona for re-electing me to the United States Senate,” Kelly said in a statement. “From day one, this campaign has been about the many Arizonans – Democrats, Independents, and Republicans – who believe in working together to tackle the significant challenges we face.

“That’s exactly what I’ve done in my first two years in office and what I will continue to do for as long as I’m there. It’s been one of the great honors of my life to serve as Arizona’s Senator. I’m humbled by the trust our state has placed in me to continue this work.”

Kelly’s projected win could go a long way to determining which party control the Senate.

The chamber is currently divided evenly between Republicans and Democrats, with Vice President Kamala Harris casting tiebreaking votes. It might end up like that again depending on the results of the Dec. 6 Georgia runoff election.

Kelly survived a special election to hold the role as Arizona’s junior U.S. senator prior to the win against Masters.

He was first elected in 2020, defeating Republican Martha McSally, who was appointed to the position in 2018 following the death of longtime Sen. John McCain.

The term for McCain’s seat ends this year, so Kelly will have a full six-year term as senator.

Masters, who describes himself as an “America First conservative,” was a political newcomer and ally of billionaire investor Peter Thiel.

Masters, who grew up in Tucson and moved back to southern Arizona in 2018, was a senior executive for Thiel’s investment firm and foundation.

Polling averages had Kelly comfortably ahead until the final days, when Masters closed the gap.

FiveThirtyEight had Kelly up 1.8 percentage points, while RealClearPolitics had Kelly up one percentage point.

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Democrat Mark Kelly projected to retain seat as US senator from Arizona