Decision 2020: Martha McSally vs. Mark Kelly (AZ Senate)

John Reynolds ’24

In Arizona, the race for a seat in the U.S. Senate comes at a significant time. President Donald Trump has nominated Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, which would most likely swing the court to the right. This could, in return, revoke Roe vs. Wade and the Affordable Care Act. The Democrats believe they have one trick up their sleeve with a special election in Arizona, between the incumbent Martha McSally and Mark Kelly. If Kelly wins and takes office before the vote on Amy Barrett, he could cast a decisive vote at Amy Barrett’s confirmation hearing if three Republicans defect.

Martha McSally. Gage Skidmore (CC BY-SA 2.0).

Martha McSally was sworn into the U.S. Senate in January of 2019 and previously represented Arizona’s Second Congressional District for four years in the House of Representatives. McSally was a fighter pilot in the Air Force for 26 years before entering politics and retiring as a full colonel.

Mark Kelly served as a naval aviator in the Gulf War and flew in 39 combat missions in operation Desert Storm. In 1996, he was selected to be an astronaut and spent more than 50 days at the International Space Station. His reasoning for starting his political campaign is stated on his website: “I’m running for the United States Senate because Washington is broken and Arizonans deserve independent leadership focused on solving the problems we face.”

Mark Kelly. Gage Skidmore (CC BY-SA 2.0).

In their most recent debate, the two fought over many issues, including healthcare, businesses during the pandemic, the border wall, the COVID-19 response, and President Trump’s treatment of Senator McCain. Their responses followed party lines for the most part, with Kelly wanting to expand affordable healthcare and McSally calling the Affordable Care Act “a government takeover of healthcare.” The one subject in which they found common ground was the treatment of President Trump towards Senator McCain. McSally stated that “it pisses me off when he does that” (Cronkite News).

According to Real Clear Politics, Kelly leads over McSally with 49.6% of the votes to McSally’s 43.1%, putting him 6.5 points ahead. All polls have shown Kelly with a substantial lead over the last few months, which has Senate Democrats planning for the next steps to shut down Trump’s nominee if Kelly wins. All in all, this is a race to watch. There is much at stake on a national level with the next Supreme Court justice appointment at stake, and Arizona’s transition from a red state to a battleground state.