While Kelly has been an outspoken gun control advocate since his wife survived an assassination attempt in Tucson in 2011, KTAR News' political analyst Mike O'Neil said he does not believe his position will hurt him with voters. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., who was appointed to McCain's seat a year ago after she was narrowly defeated by now-Sen. "Partisanship and polarization and gerrymandering and corporate money have ruined our politics and it's divided us", he said.
If Kelly is nominated the race would pit the Navy veteran and astronaut against McSally, a trailblazing Air Force pilot, in the contest to replace McCain, a legendary Navy flyer who was famously shot down and held captive in North Vietnam. John McCain's seat in next year's special election.
Democrats are eagerly watching the Arizona contest, having already beaten McSally once. Jon McCain's death. McSally's appointment came months after she lost losing an open Senate race to Democrat Kyrsten Sinema. The victor would have to run again for a full six-year term in 2022.
Kelly, a former naval aviator, was selected as an astronaut by NASA in 1996, in the same class as his twin brother Scott.
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Kelly retired as a NASA astronaut in 2011 after completing four missions into space over the span of decade. They shifted their focus to state legislatures in recent years, helping to strengthen background checks and domestic violence protections.
"And that's Mark Kelly's chief attribute, I think".
In addition to being a NASA astronaut, 54-year-old Kelly was also a U.S. Navy Combat pilot and engineer.
Kelly is considered a leading candidate for the Democratic nomination, and was recruited by party leaders to run for the seat.
Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican, appointed McSally to the vacant Senate seat after his first appointee, former Sen. The Democrat served four terms there, and in his final months in office in 1998 flew again in space on the STS-95 shuttle mission. Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego, who represents parts of Phoenix, has been considering a run.
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Democrat Mark Kelly announced a bid for the 2020 Senate seat now held by Martha McSally.
A source close to Gallego told KTAR News in January that he was "very interested" in running for Senate, and the Democratic congressman tweeted Tuesday that he would make an announcement soon.
McCain died in August.
Former Arizona attorney general Grant Woods, a lifelong Republican who became a Democrat and a fierce critic of Trump, announced last week that he will not run, saying he didn't want to fight in a contested primary.
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