Three weeks before the general election, Sen. Mark Kelly is making his voice heard across Arizona — from the debate stage earlier this month and, more recently, Peoria, where he spoke at the Mission for Arizona office, an organization aimed at electing Democrats statewide.
On Oct. 12, Kelly held an event at the office that serves the entire West Valley. With the election a matter of weeks away, he seems to be doing everything he can do to ensure he is elected over Republican candidate Blake Masters.
Kelly, who has been a member of the U.S. Senate now for 21 months, did not originally plan on going into politics.
“I was not the politician in our family,” he joked. “That was my wife, Gabby Giffords.”
Despite that, Kelly saw the way things were going in American politics and decided to get involved.
“In 2020, I was concerned that we were going on a bad trajectory,” Kelly said. “And I know a little bit about trajectories.”
After serving 25 years in the U.S. Navy and another 15 years in NASA — which included 54 days in space as a commander of a Space Mission — Kelly was elected to the Senate office in 2020 after a close election.
In an attempt to rouse new and returning voters, Kelly founded Mission for Arizona earlier this year. The initiative has one goal: mobilizing key voters across Arizona in the hopes of electing and reelecting Democrats, such as Kelly himself.
“This election is so important, and the choice is so obvious,” Kelly said.
“We do elections well in this state. Our governor, Doug Ducey, I agree with him on this: We do elections well. We had a free and fair and secure election in 2020. We’re going to have it again in 2022.”
Kelly’s personal optimism for Arizona was mixed with warnings of the harm he believes his opponent, Masters, is capable of doing to Arizona.
“We’ve expanded veteran’s health care, we did postal reform, gun safety legislation … all these things working with Republicans,” he said. “This is the way the place is supposed to work. But we have folks that don’t want to do that. You know, my opponent is an example. He said he’ll never work with Democrats. He calls Democrats psychopaths.”
Kelly was referring to a viral clip of Masters from August, where he dispelled ideas that he’s being hyperbolic and said that he truly does think Democrats are psychopaths.
For Kelly, he and Masters also disagree on how to lead.
“He’s actually said if he’s elected to the United States Senate, there will be no Legislature,” he said. “I mean, that’s the job. And that is somebody who does not get the job.”
In his time as senator, Kelly pointed out that he has put all of his assets into a blind trust, has stayed away from corporate PAC money, and has published his Senate schedule to the public.
“There are 535 members of Congress,” he said. “How many of those 535 people do you think have done that? One,” Kelly said.
“I was going to say you can count it on one hand, but you can actually count it on one finger,” he added jokingly.
Another issue important to Kelly is voting — both voting in person and voting accessibility. According to AZ Clean Elections, roughly 80% of Arizonans vote by mail, which is something Kelly is acutely aware of.
“To win elections, folks, we have to get people out to vote,” he said. “And that’s why you are here. To help compel people to turn in those mail-in ballots,” he said.
“My opponent, on the other hand, has already said that he thinks voting should only be on Election Day. Do you know why he says this? Because if you only vote on Election Day, much fewer people vote. They don’t want people to vote.”
According to recent polls, Kelly is polling at 51% and Masters at 48%. With Mission for Arizona, Kelly is encouraging voters across the state to show up and vote blue.
“Thank you for being here, sign up for those shifts, make those phone calls. And if we do this, we can win in November,” he said.