Mark Kelly Announces Arizona Senate Run

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Former space shuttle pilot and Gulf War veteran Mark Kelly has announced via Twitter that he is running for U.S. Senate in Arizona, according to CNN.

“My next mission…. #FullSpeedAhead #ForArizona,” he tweeted on Tuesday.

Kelly may be best known for being a space shuttle pilot and astronaut, having piloted and commanded numerous space shuttle missions. His final mission was also the farewell of the Endeavor space shuttle.

However, Kelly was also pushed into the national spotlight as a husband. His wife, former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, was the target of an assassination attempt in Tucson, Arizona in 2011, an attack which left six people dead and Giffords with a severe brain injury. She retired from Congress in 2012, but not before drawing national attention to gun control issues.

“What I learned from my wife is how you use policy to improve people’s lives,” he said in a campaign video posted on Twitter. “Arizonans are facing incredibly challenging issues here in the years to come.”

Among the issues Kelly said he planned to focus on are wage stagnation, job growth, affordable health care, the economy, and the effects of climate change, especially in desert regions like that of much of Arizona.

Kelly also touched on the value of his experience as an engineer and a U.S. Navy pilot during the Gulf War, where he flew combat missions.

“We’ve seen this retreat from science and data and facts, and if we don’t take these issues seriously, we can’t solve these problems,” he said.

“Solving some of these problems requires one thing, and that’s teamwork. Partisanship and polarization and gerrymandering and corporate money have ruined our politics. It’s divided us.”

Mark Kelly appears with wife Gabrielle Giffords
Featured image credit: Brian BedderGetty Images

Kelly’s name isn’t the only one being floated by Democrats to run against Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.). While Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Catherine Cortes Mastro (D-Nev.), who runs the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC), met with Kelly last month to discuss his possible candidacy, Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego is said to be considering a run as well.

When Kelly goes up against McSally, he will be facing off with another veteran and another pilot. McSally reached the rank of colonel in the U.S. Air Force, one of the highest-ranking female pilots in Air Force history. She lost her 2018 senate race against Democratic Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema, but was appointed to Arizona’s other senate seat when it was vacated by former Republican Sen. Jon Kyl following his resignation from the Senate.