Kelly win in Arizona takes Dems 1 seat from Senate control

PHOENIX (AP) — Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly won his reelection bid in crucial swing state Arizona on Friday, defeating Republican venture capitalist Blake Masters to give his party a victory away from control of the chamber for the next two years from Joe to hold Biden’s presidency.

With Vice President Kamala Harris’ tie vote, Democrats can maintain control of the Senate by either winning the Nevada race, which is too early to announce, or next month’s runoff in Georgia. Republicans must now win both races to gain a majority.

The Arizona race is one of a few contests Republicans have targeted to take control of the 50-50 Senate. It was a test of the progress Kelly and other Democrats have made in a state once reliably dominated by the GOP. Kelly’s victory suggests that Arizona Democrats’ success was not an aberration during Donald Trump’s presidency.

Other Arizona contests, including the closely watched race for governor between Democrat Katie Hobbs and Republican Kari Lake, were too early to call Friday night.

Kelly, a former NASA astronaut who has flown in space four times, is married to former US Rep. Gabby Giffords, who inspired the nation with her recovery from a gunshot wound to the head during a 2011 assassination that killed six people and 13 were injured Kelly and Giffords later co-founded a gun safety advocacy group.

Kelly’s victory in a 2020 special election sparked by the death of Republican Senator John McCain gave Democrats both Arizona Senate seats for the first time in 70 years. The shift was driven by the state’s rapidly changing demographics and Trump’s unpopularity.

Kelly’s 2022 campaign focused primarily on his support for abortion rights, protecting Social Security, lowering drug prices and ensuring a stable water supply amid a drought that has curtailed Arizona’s Colorado River water cuts.

As President Joe Biden struggled with low approval ratings, Kelly distanced himself from the president, particularly on border security, and downplayed his Democratic affiliation amid fears over the state of the economy.

He also stylized himself as an independent willing to oppose his party, in the style of McCain.

Masters, a supporter of billionaire tech investor Peter Thiel, sought to dig into Kelly’s independent image by reconciling it with Biden’s failure to secure the US-Mexico border and curb rampant inflation.

Masters endeared himself to many GOP primary voters with his penchant for provocation and contrarian thinking. He called for the privatization of Social Security, took a hardline anti-abortion stance, and espoused a racist theory popular with white nationalists that Democrats are trying to use immigration to replace whites in America.

But after emerging injured from a controversial primary, Masters struggled to raise funds and was put on the defense for his controversial positions.

He earned Trump’s endorsement after claiming “Trump won 2020,” but under pressure during a debate last month, he admitted he had seen no evidence the election had been rigged. He later doubled down on the false claim that Trump won.

After the primary, he deleted some of his more controversial positions from his website, but it wasn’t enough for the moderate swing voters who decided the election. Kelly win in Arizona takes Dems 1 seat from Senate control

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