Mark Kelly, a retired astronaut and Navy captain, toppled Sen. Martha McSally, of the Arizona Republican, earlier on Wednesday, overturned a key seat to Democrats’ efforts to win. control of the Senate.
This is the second time voters in the traditional conservative country have turned down Ms. McSally, who sticked with President Trump to push her Senate outlook in 2018 and never let it go, as they made it. Severe criticism of the president and his allies.
Mr. Kelly, who has built up a national profile as a gun safety advocate after the shooting of his wife, former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, ran as a pragmatist. The focus of his campaign was betting that he could attract voters in rapidly changing situations ̵1; particularly the key voting blocks that McSally has alienated, including women, younger voters and Latinos, who have become increasingly powerful parts of voters in recent years.
His victory, predicted for months in statewide polls, was crucial to Democrats in their attempt to regain the Senate. The contest, one of the most expensive and most closely watched competitions in the nation, was the first time Arizona residents voted to send two Democrats to represent the Senate since the 1950s, emphasizing a state’s demographic and political change was once considered a conservative citadel.
Mr. Kelly stared into his biography on the run, acting as a NASA shuttle pilot and retired Navy captain and as an independent thinker. He often ignores questions about more liberal policies advocated by advancers in Congress, keeping a laser-like focus on health care and worries Mrs. McSally about handling the pandemic. .
Ms. McSally has a compelling story of her own to tell. As the first woman to fly an American fighter jet, she sued the Bush administration for making her wear an abaya while on duty in Saudi Arabia, and last year made a strong statement about how she had been killed by an army officer. Male superiors rape.
But her run in the election weakened, after losing her first Senate run in 2018 and prompting Governor Doug Ducey to appoint her to the vacant chair following Senator John McCain’s death. at the beginning of that year.
During that race, Ms. McSally gave up the central reputation she had cultivated as a female congressman to dominate the crowded Republican primary election and enthusiastically accepted Mr. Trump. , a strategy she maintained in competition against Mr. Kelly in special elections to the remainder of Mr. McCain’s term.
Although she clung tightly to the chairman, the feeling was not always the same. Mr Trump has repeatedly asked his advisers if her candidacy was adversely affecting his own prospects in Arizona and at his state campaigns, rather than supporting her. McSally, you look down on you sometimes. During the final days of the race, during a rally in Goodyear, Mr. Trump told the senator she had a minute to speak, urging her to “hurry, fast, fast, fast!”
“They don’t want to hear this, Martha,” he said as she rushed onto the stage.
She also has unwarranted flaws. Ms. McSally was fired in August after jokingly saying supporters “have a quick snack” to donate to her campaign. The comment underlined the huge disparity in fundraising between her campaign and that of Mr. Kelly’s. He’s become a fundraiser, harnessing a network of donors from his days leading gun control and online enthusiasm.
But perhaps the most insurmountable chasm McSally faces is between Arizona’s ruby-red operations base and an increasingly powerful coalition of suburban moderates and voters. ethnically diverse, who have argued with the president’s divisive talk and pandemic handling. During a debate with Mr. Kelly during the final weeks of the race, she declined to say if she was proud of her support for Mr. Trump.
The extent of the suburban revolt against Mr. Trump was highlighted on Tuesday night when Representative David Schweikert, a Republican representing a district in the Phoenix suburbs, tried to fend off a challenger Democracy in a region has long been considered safe by the Republicans.