Mark Kelly joins exclusive club of astronaut-politicians

Retired astronaut Mark Kelly, husband of Gabby Giffords, to run for Senate
Mark Kelly announces bid for John McCain's Senate seat
Author

15 February, 2019

Democrats just got a particularly intriguing candidate to run for one of the small number of vulnerable Republican seats: Mark Kelly, former astronaut, gun safety advocate, and husband of former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, announced that he'll be running in Arizona for John McCain's old seat, which is now held by Martha McSally.

Kelly, who is the husband of former Tucson Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, is running as a Democrat.

McCain died in August of a year ago, having held the Senate seat for more than three decades.

But Mark Kelly's life and career changed after his wife, Gabrielle Giffords, a Congresswoman from what was then Arizona's 8th district, was nearly assassinated on January 8, 2011 during a meeting with her constituents.

The ad also features Kelly's wife, former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, and her years-long recovery from a 2011 assassination attempt that pushed the couple to become outspoken gun control advocates.

Kelly posted a video to Twitter on Tuesday while announcing his candidacy in which Giffords featured heavily.

Toward the end of the video, Kelly says he was motivated to run because of a growing opposition to science, data and facts.

Mr Kelly said he has learnt a lot from being an astronaut, as well as from being a pilot in the navy and being an engineer. [.] I care about people, I care about the state of Arizona, I care about this nation.

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Representative Ruben Gallego, D, has also been considering a 2020 Senate run.

Kelly, a former naval aviator, was selected as an astronaut by NASA in 1996, in the same class as his twin brother Scott.

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.

The retired NASA astronaut said Arizonans face "incredibly challenging issues" in the future, focusing on access to health care, wage stagnation, job growth and the effects of climate change in his first four-minute video.

He has been working with Rodd McLeod, a veteran Arizona Democratic strategist who worked on Giffords's first race.

Mr McCain, a legendary and beloved Arizona politician, died a year ago from an aggressive form of brain cancer after more than three decades in the Senate.

As a Navy combat pilot, Kelly was deployed during the Gulf War and flew 39 combat missions, according to his campaign page. Six others were killed during the shooting and 13 were injured.

A few hours after Kelly's announcement, Gallego sent an email to campaign supporters asking whether or not he should run for Senate in 2020. The seat will be on the ballot for a full six-year term in 2022. "I'll be making a final decision and announcement soon".


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