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Election 2020

Ex-Astronaut Mark Kelly Makes Democratic Bid For US Senate Seat

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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.

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Biden selects California Sen. Kamala Harris as running mate

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WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — Joe Biden named California Sen. Kamala Harris as his running mate on Tuesday, making history by selecting the first Black woman to compete on a major party’s presidential ticket and acknowledging the vital role Black voters will play in his bid to defeat President Donald Trump.

In choosing Harris, Biden is embracing a former rival from the Democratic primary who is familiar with the unique rigor of a national campaign. Harris, a 55-year-old first-term senator, is also one of the party’s most prominent figures and quickly became a top contender for the No. 2 spot after her own White House campaign ended.

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Breaking News

Biden selects California Sen. Kamala Harris as running mate

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WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — Joe Biden named California Sen. Kamala Harris as his running mate on Tuesday, making history by selecting the first Black woman to compete on a major party’s presidential ticket and acknowledging the vital role Black voters will play in his bid to defeat President Donald Trump.

In choosing Harris, Biden is embracing a former rival from the Democratic primary who is familiar with the unique rigor of a national campaign. Harris, a 55-year-old first-term senator, is also one of the party’s most prominent figures and quickly became a top contender for the No. 2 spot after her own White House campaign ended.

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Election 2020

Biden ‘absolutely convinced’ military would escort Trump from White House if he refuses to leave

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden sounded an alarm Wednesday about GOP moves to limit voting access, saying his “single greatest concern” is that President Donald Trump will “try to steal this election.”

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(CNN) — Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden sounded an alarm Wednesday about GOP moves to limit voting access, saying his “single greatest concern” is that President Donald Trump will “try to steal this election.” But, the former vice president said, he is “absolutely convinced” the military would escort Trump from the White House if he loses the election but refuses to leave office.

Asked by Trevor Noah on “The Daily Show” if he’s ever considered what would happen if Trump would not leave the White House if he loses, Biden responded, “Yes, I have.”

Biden pointed to Trump’s history of spreading false conspiracy theories about voter fraud, including a recent series of lies about mail-in voting leading to widespread voter fraud — which Republican and Democratic-led states are increasingly embracing amid the coronavirus pandemic.

He highlighted Georgia’s botched primary Tuesday, in which problems with voting machines and other issues led to hours-long waits at some polling places in predominantly black areas. He said his campaign is putting out a “major initiative of lawyers” to patrol voting issues.

“It’s my greatest concern — my single greatest concern. This president is going to try to steal this election,” Biden said.

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“This is a guy who said that all mail-in ballots are fraudulent, voting by mail, while he sits behind the desk in the Oval Office and writes his mail-in ballot to vote in a primary,” he said, referring to Trump voting by mail in Florida.

Still, Biden said Wednesday, he believes if Trump has lost the election, military leaders would not allow him to refuse to leave office.

Saying he was “so damn proud” of the military leaders who have recently criticized Trump, Biden continued, “you have so many rank and file military personnel saying, well, we’re not a military state, this is not who we are. I promise you, I’m absolutely convinced, they will escort him from the White House in a dispatch.”

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany called Biden’s remarks a “ridiculous proposition” during an appearance on Fox News Thursday.

Biden and other Democrats have long said they worry about Republican attempts to impose strict voting laws. Those concerns grew when in Wisconsin this spring, the national and state GOP opposed the Democratic governor’s bid to mail every voter an absentee ballot and successfully fought in court to hold an in-person spring election in April in the midst of the pandemic. At stake was a state Supreme Court seat that would cast the deciding vote in a case over whether to purge more than 200,000 voters from the state’s rolls ahead of Election Day in November. A Democrat won that election.

Two months ago, Biden said he believes Trump will attempt to move the election date because of the coronavirus — a claim Trump has rejected.

“Mark my words: I think he is gonna try to kick back the election somehow, come up with some rationale why it can’t be held,” Biden said in April.

Visit CNN’s Election Center for full coverage of the 2020 race

Rep. Cedric Richmond, a Louisiana Democrat who is a co-chairman of Biden’s campaign, echoed Biden’s comments to CNN’s “New Day” on Thursday about the possibility of military intervention to ensure a peaceful transfer of power if Trump refuses to acknowledge an election loss.

“I believe the military generals and others will step up and make sure that there’s a peaceful transition of power,” Richmond said.

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