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NASA astronaut Mark Kelly launches Senate campaign

NASA astronaut Mark Kelly launches Senate campaign

Former NASA astronaut Mark Kelly announced today that he is running for the Arizona Senate seat once held by John McCain. The former Tucson congresswoman, who represented the same district as Giffords a few years after the shooting, was appointed to the Senate early this year.

Mr Kelly, 54, is married to former Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who retired after being shot during a 2011 mass shooting. Kelly and Giffords have since been vocal advocates for gun control.

"We've seen this retreat from science and data and facts", he says. "I learned a lot about solving problems from being an engineer", Kelly says in the campaignannouncementvideo.

In the ad, Kelly presents himself as a team player who would work across partisan divides to address issues like healthcare, wages, job growth, and climate change.

Both Kelly and Giiffords are mobile activists for gun regulation, but gun control wasn't mentioned in Kelly's campaign video. That activism, the years they've spent campaigning for candidates who shared their beliefs on guns, and Kelly's experience in the Navy and at NASA mean he isn't a neophyte when it comes to government and politics.

A request for comment from the Giffords PAC on Kelly's involvement with the group going forward did not receive a reply by press time. The victor will have to run again for a full six-year term in 2022. Kelly announced today he will run for U.S. Senate in 2020.

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Kelly completed four missions to space and lived aboard the International Space Station before retiring from NASA in 2011.

Announcing his campaign in a video posted to Twitter, Kelly leaned hard into his career as a Navy aviator and astronaut - and on his wife, who appeared with him. They shifted their focus to state legislatures in recent years, helping strengthen background checks and domestic violence protections, among other modest reforms. The shooting at a Giffords meet-and-greet event outside a grocery store in Tucson left six dead and 13 injured. Former Sen. Jon Kyl was appointed by the state's Republican governor, Doug Ducey, to fill the seat, but Kyl held the seat only through the end of 2018 before stepping down.

But if Gallego runs, Democrats would first have to navigate a primary that could become divisive and expensive.

McCain, a legendary and beloved Arizona politician, died past year from an aggressive form of brain cancer after more than three decades in the Senate.

Arizona has been a longstanding Republican stronghold, but a growing Latino population and frustration among women with Trump have helped Democrats make inroads.

Phoenix-area Democratic Congressman Ruben Gallego is also considering a run for the seat.


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