Mark Kelly launches his Senate bid in Phoenix: ‘It’s a mission for Arizona’
Mark Kelly, the retired astronaut and U.S. Navy combat pilot, publicly launched his bid for Democratic nomination for the 2020 Senate seat in Phoenix on Sunday, in front of a throng of supporters who hope to see him unseat Republican U.S. Sen. Martha McSally.
Kelly’s event — held in the parking lot of a downtown music venue and attended by about 750 people — followed a similar appearance in Tucson on Saturday. He was introduced to the stage by his wife, former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who survived an assassination attempt at a 2011 constituent event near Tucson, where six people died and 12 others were injured.
Kelly, 55, spoke of his missions to space, his service during the Iraq War, and his caregiving to Giffords after the shooting, as well as his advocacy for gun-control measures in the wake of the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.
“A mission for Arizona,” he said of his campaign. “A mission to lift up hard-working Arizonans, make Arizona safe and secure, give every family in this state access to affordable health care, and grow wages for our middle class.”
Kelly did not detail specific policy ideas during his 16-minute speech.
He got some of the loudest applause from the audience as he spoke of the effects of climate change on the planet.
“The current administration and some in Congress, they’ve been really bad for our planet,” Kelly said. “…. If we don’t get our act together, Arizona is going to have more heat, more drought, and less economic growth. That is clear, and we have to look this problem in the face and find solutions — not ignore it.”
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Jim Oleson, an independent voter from Scottsdale, said he was happy to see a fresh voice in the political field, calling Kelly a “competent” and “honest” candidate.
“This was wonderful for a starter,” said Oleson, 80.
Tracey Sekayumpteway, a mom of five children from Chandler, showed up to hear Kelly speak to educate herself on where Kelly stands on gun control. She also wanted to hear his policy ideas on ensuring that young undocumented children brought to the U.S. illegally as children will gain legal status.
Sekayumpteway, 38, an independent voter, said she will vote for a candidate who cares less about partisan politics and cares more about making “moral decisions” that will impact generations to come.
“Gun control is one of the major issues that we face as a nation. We as parents, as mothers, don’t want to send our children to school knowing there’s a possibility that something can happen to them,” Sekayumpteway said. “A candidate that understands that issue and has had it as a platform is very important to me.”
Kelly kicked off Senate campaign Feb. 12 with a four-minute video featuring cinematic views of the desert and scenes of him with his wife. The weekend rallies were his first formal campaign events.