TUCSON, Ariz. — Retired astronaut Mark Kelly kicked off a “mission for Arizona” Saturday as he launched his U.S. Senate marketing campaign with a rally in Tucson, town the place his spouse, Gabrielle Giffords, survived a taking pictures when she was a congresswoman. That assault in 2011 led Kelly to go away NASA and turn out to be a political activist, pushing for gun management.
Kelly, who has by no means held elected workplace, is the primary Democrat to enter the 2020 race. The seat is now held by Republican Martha McSally, a former congresswoman and Air Drive pilot who was appointed by Arizona’s GOP governor after longtime GOP Sen. John McCain died.
WATCH: Retired NASA astronaut Mark Kelly working for the U.S. Senate seat in Arizona
Subsequent 12 months’s election will determine who finishes the ultimate two years of McCain’s time period. It’s anticipated to be intently contested, with Arizona more and more aggressive after a long time of Republican dominance.
The marketing campaign, Kelly stated, is “a mission to raise up hardworking Arizonans, make Arizona secure and safe, give each household on this state entry to reasonably priced well being care and develop wages for our center class.”
He spoke to a number of hundred supporters on the patio of a historic resort in downtown Tucson about 9 miles from the grocery retailer the place Giffords was shot within the head and 6 individuals died throughout a constituent occasion on Jan. eight, 2011.
“The taking pictures modified each of our lives — dramatically, negatively and completely,” Kelly stated. “Like so many households, we had been knocked to the bottom in a drastic and surprising approach. However we bought up.”
Giffords launched her husband, saying Arizona is various and unbiased but in addition faces complicated issues.
WATCH: Gabby Giffords reacts to bipartisan invoice to increase firearm background checks
“We’d like daring options. Brave concepts. Leaders who put individuals first, not politics,” Giffords stated. “I do know the proper particular person for the job.”
Kelly, who was dwelling in Houston on the time of the taking pictures and stationed at NASA’s headquarters, retired from the house company and moved to Tucson in 2012. He and Giffords pushed Congress, with little success, to enact gun management measures. They shifted their focus to state legislatures in recent times, serving to to strengthen background checks and home violence protections.
He recalled assembly Giffords in China in 2007, when she was a state legislator, and their first date a 12 months later at a state jail.
“It’s Gabby Giffords who might mix analysis for her job as a state senator and a primary date,” he stated.
He listed local weather change, well being care and school affordability, gun violence and immigration as points on which he’d focus.
He stated he raised greater than $1 million within the first 24 hours after his announcement Feb. 12 that he was working.
U.S. Rep. Ruben Gallego of Phoenix, who has sturdy ties to Democratic activists, is also contemplating a run.
Kelly has signalled he plans to run a centrist marketing campaign.
“If we proceed to remain so targeted on partisanship and partisan politics on this nation, we’re going to have a tough time fixing our largest issues,” he stated.
Kelly flew fight missions in the course of the first Gulf Battle and was a Navy check pilot earlier than changing into an astronaut alongside along with his twin brother, Scott. Mark Kelly flew 4 house missions over 10 years and commanded the House Shuttle Endeavor in 2011.
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McSally was appointed to briefly fill McCain’s seat after she narrowly misplaced to Democrat Kyrsten Sinema within the 2018 race for Arizona’s different Senate seat.
McSally was elected to the Home in 2014, defeating Ron Barber, a Giffords congressional staffer who was injured within the 2011 taking pictures and received a particular election to exchange her after she resigned.
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