PHOENIX (AP) — Retired astronaut Mark Kelly, who became a prominent gun-control advocate after his wife, former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, was shot in a failed assassination attempt, announced Tuesday he will run to finish John McCain’s last term in the U.S. Senate.
The Democrat will take on Republican Martha McSally in what is expected to be one of the most closely contested Senate races of the 2020 election.
Kelly described himself as an independent-minded centrist who will take a scientist’s data-driven approach to solving problems such as climate change, wage stagnation and health care affordability.
“You see a lot of partisanship in Washington and a lot of polarization, and to some extent we’ve created that,” Kelly told The Associated Press. “It’s going to take people who are more independent to fix it. Arizonans value independence.”
If Kelly is nominated the race would pit the Navy veteran and astronaut against McSally, a trailblazing Air Force pilot, in the contest to replace McCain, a legendary Navy flyer who was famously shot down and held captive in North Vietnam.
McSally is a former Republican congresswoman who was appointed to McCain’s seat after she narrowly lost to Democrat Kyrsten Sinema last November in the race for outgoing Republican Jeff Flake’s seat. McSally leaned heavily on her record as the first woman to fly a combat mission, but she was hurt by her embrace of President Donald Trump.
The 2020 election will decide who finishes the last two years of McCain’s term. The winner would have to run again for a full six-year term in 2022.
Democrats are eagerly watching the Arizona contest, having already defeated McSally. The party is also gauging whether Arizona could be competitive at the presidential level in 2020, where Trump won in 2016.
Kelly has never held elected office. He flew combat missions during the first Gulf War before becoming an astronaut along with his twin brother, Scott Kelly. He flew four space missions over 10 years and commanded the Space Shuttle Endeavor in 2011.
Kelly and Giffords have pushed Congress to enact gun control measures with little success. They shifted their focus to state legislatures in recent years, helping to strengthen background checks and domestic violence protections.
Giffords was severely wounded in a mass shooting on Jan. 8, 2011. The shooting at a Giffords meet-and-greet event in Tucson left six dead and 13 injured.
Giffords played a prominent role in the four-minute video Tuesday launching Kelly’s campaign.
“I thought then that I had the risky job,” Kelly says to Giffords. “Turned out, you were the one that had the risky job.”
Kelly told the AP Giffords, who has been a rising Democratic star before the shooting, will join him frequently during campaign appearances.
Republican Gov. Doug Ducey appointed McSally to the vacant Senate seat after his first appointee, former Sen. Jon Kyl, resigned after only a few months in office.
Arizona has been a longstanding Republican stronghold, but a growing Latino population and frustration among women with Trump have helped Democrats make inroads.
U.S. Rep. Ruben Gallego of Phoenix is also considering a Senate run that would likely position him to Kelly’s left politically.
“I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’m looking seriously at running for the U.S. Senate in 2020, and that hasn’t changed,” Gallego said on Twitter following Kelly’s announcement. “I’ll be making a final decision and announcement soon.”
Former Attorney General Grant Woods, a lifelong Republican who became a Democrat and a fierce critic of Trump, said last week he will not run for the seat.
McCain, a legendary and beloved Arizona politician, died last year from an aggressive form of brain cancer after more than three decades in the Senate.
One Moore Time: Roy Moore Does It Again
During a rambling, aggrieved speech in which he name-checked Robert Mueller, Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, and George Soros, Moore—who infamously lost the 2017 special election to Jones—painted himself as the victim of a global smear campaign who would nevertheless buck the overwhelming opposition to his candidacy and win in 2020.
Roy Moore announces he will run again for US Senate seat in Alabama: “Can I win? Yes, I can win. Not only can I, they know I can. That’s why there's such opposition” https://t.co/GmKtDI1I7a pic.twitter.com/4CjcRkCMS6— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) June 20, 2019
Claiming that he’d like to focus on “more personal contact” with voters this time around (yikes), Moore reiterated his claims of innocence in the face of multiple allegations that he’d preyed on young women during the 1970s.
Moore saved much of his venom for the establishment Republican Party, which he blamed for pushing President Trump to oppose his second Senate run. In late May, Trump publicly urged Moore not to run; he staunchly supported Moore’s candidacy in 2017, even after multiple women accused Moore of sexual assault and harassment.
Now that Moore has officially declared his intent to run again, all eyes will turn to former Attorney General and—more pertinently—former Alabama senator Jeff Sessions, who has been reportedly thinking about recapturing his old seat.
“Sessions, I don’t think, has ruled [running for his old seat] out,” Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby told the Washington Post, when asked about the possibility that Sessions may join the Republican primary. “I’ve talked to him about it. I think if he ran, he would be a formidable candidate, formidable.”
In addition to the allegations of sexual assault, Moore’s 2017 campaign was punctuated by rampant homophobia, bizarre philo-semitism, and at least one instance of a burnished firearm. He has since gone on to sue comedian Sacha Baron Cohen after Cohen mocked him during a taping of his Who is America? for Showtime.
Reporting By Splinter News
A “Schock For Congress?”: Aaron Schock Possibly Making New Run For Congress
Scandal-ridden former Republican representative, Aaron Schock, may be planning to run for Congress again.
A Statement of Organization was filed last week with the Federal Election Commission for the “Schock for Congress” campaign, LGBTQNation reported.
Schock, 37, is listed as the campaign treasurer upon the documents, even though the campaign reportedly has no funds.
The politician served as a US Representative from Illinois from 2009 to 2015. However he resigned after being accused of misusing campaign and public funds.
He was also the subject of a congressional ethics investigation and was indicted by a federal grand jury.
Federal prosecutors dropped charges earlier this year in exchange for paying $110,000 in restitution and taxes.
At the time, the Republican told CBS News that he hadn’t ruled out the possibility of returning to politics at some point in the future.
‘At 37-years-old, I don’t think I’ll ever say never,” said Schock. He added that he had “enjoyed being out of politics the last four years.’
Schock has proved a controversial figure among the LGBTI community. While in office, he campaigned against a number of issues including gays in the military, marriage equality, and LGBTI hate crimes.
However, although not openly gay, photographs have been widely circulated apparently showing Schock making out with a man in public while putting his hand down the man’s shorts.
(Reporting by Gay Star News)
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