Arizona Senator Mark Kelly has struggled to keep the seat he won for Democrats two years ago, but he faces a very different political environment ahead of Tuesday’s election against the investor. Republican venture capitalist Blake Masters.
Kelly’s 2020 special election victory gave Democrats both Arizona’s Senate seats for the first time in 70 years. It was driven by the rapidly changing demographics of the state and the unpopularity of then-President Donald Trump.
This time, the unpopular president, Joe Biden, is from Kelly’s own party, and the environment looks less favorable for Democrats.
The Arizona race is one of the few that Republicans are targeting in their bid for control of the now 50-50 Senate district. It is a test of the inroads Kelly and other Democrats have run in a state once dominated by Republicans and will provide clues as to whether Democrats’ success in this is a mistake in the Trump presidency or a lasting phenomenon.
Kelly distanced herself from Biden, especially on border security, and downplayed her Democrats. Masters emerged from the Republican primary and struggled to raise funds, but polls show the race is over anyway.
Kelly’s political identity is defined by two parts of his biography. He has flown in space four times as a NASA astronaut. And he’s married to former U.S. Congressman Gabby Giffords, who inspired the nation with her recovery from a gunshot wound to the head. A shooting at a 2011 election event in Tucson killed six people and injured. 13. Kelly and Giffords went on to form a gun control advocacy group.
Kelly’s campaign is largely focused on advocating for abortion rights, defending Social Security, lowering drug prices, and ensuring a steady water supply amid drought, which has reduced Arizona’s Colorado River water .
He styled himself an independent willing to go against his party, in the style of US Republican Senator John McCain, whose death led to the special election that Kelly won in 2009. 2020.
“I’ve been working with Republicans and Democrats to bring manufacturing jobs back to America – but better yet to Arizona. To keep costs down,” Kelly said Monday. “And I’ve worked across the aisle to improve infrastructure, repair roads, bridges, and docks.”
Masters tried to infiltrate Kelly’s image of independence, causing him to disagree with Biden’s failure to secure the US-Mexico border and prevent rampant inflation.
“Mark Kelly is not John McCain. He’s not even Kyrsten Sinema,” Masters said at a campaign event last month, referring to the senior Arizona senator known for his major struggles. with her Democratic comrades. “He’s a rubber vote for Joe Biden’s agenda.”
Masters won Trump’s endorsement after declaring “Trump won in 2020.” Under pressure during a debate last month, he admitted he had not seen evidence the election had been rigged, but later doubled down on false claims that Trump had won.
Masters, 36, has worked most of his adult life for billionaire tech investor Peter Thiel, who paid for Masters’ preliminary run but proved more stingy in the final round. elected. Masters is beloved by many of the GOP primaries with a penchant for provocative and contrarian thinking. But since then, he has struggled to redefine his image to the more average voters who will decide Tuesday’s election.
During the preliminary, Masters called for the privatization of Social Security, took a hard line against abortion and promoted the racist theory popular with white nationalists that Democrats are looking to use immigration to replace whites in America.
Masters has since removed several controversial positions from its website.
Nearly half of Arizona voters say the economy is the most important issue facing the country, according to AP VoteCast, an extensive survey of more than 3,200 Arizona voters. The majority cited inflation as a factor to think about voting in this election, with half saying it was the most important factor.
In a state that has been at the center of election fraud conflicts, nine out of 10 voters say the future of democracy in the US is a factor in their thinking about voting in this election. About 4 in 10 say it’s the most important factor. The majority – 7 in 10 voters – say they are confident the votes will be counted correctly in this year’s election.
The fact that the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade’s abortion decision is an important factor to think about voting in this election for nearly 7 out of 10 Arizona voters. But only 1 in 10 say abortion is the most important issue facing the country.
A small number of voters approved of outgoing Governor Doug Ducey’s decision to send migrants seeking asylum in the US to northern Democratic states. A majority – almost 8 in 10 – support increasing the presence of law enforcement at the US-Mexico border.
An earlier version of this report misspelled Senator Kyrsten Sinema’s name.