Mark Kelly continues to lead Blake Masters in Arizona’s US Senate race
PHOENIX — Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Kelly extended his lead over Republican challenger Blake Masters to 5.6 percentage points Thursday evening as more results were released in Arizona’s general election.
The incumbent had a 51.74%-46.13% advantage over Masters in results posted to the Arizona Secretary of State’s website around 8:45 p.m. Libertarian Marc Victor had 2.13%. Victor dropped out the race a week before Election Day, too late to be removed from the ballot, and threw his support behind Masters.
It remains to be seen if Masters can make up the gap, which was 114,894 votes, as ballot counting continues.
The seat is key piece in the battle for control of the Senate, which was divided 50-50 — giving Democrats control because they hold the White House — heading into the midterms.
Kelly has been fighting to hold on to the seat he won for Democrats two years ago, but he faced a vastly different political environment heading into Tuesday’s election against Masters.
The incumbent defeated Republican Martha McSally, who was appointed to the position in 2018 following the death of longtime Sen. John McCain.
Kelly’s campaign has largely focused on his support for abortion rights, protecting Social Security, lowering drug prices and ensuring a stable water supply in the midst of a drought, which has curtailed Arizona’s cut of Colorado River water.
He has presented himself as someone who can reach across the aisle and call out his own party if needed, as he has with President Joe Biden’s handling of the U.S.-Mexico border.
Masters, who describes himself as an “America First conservative,” is a political newcomer and ally of billionaire investor Peter Thiel.
The Tucson native won Trump’s endorsement after claiming “Trump won in 2020.” Under pressure during a debate last month, he acknowledged he hasn’t seen evidence the election was rigged, but later doubled down on the false claim that Trump won.
Polling averages had Kelly comfortably ahead until the final days, when Masters closed the gap.
Since the term for McCain’s seat ends this year, Kelly or Masters will have a full six-year term as senator.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.