Mark Kelly addresses supporters in a Tucson event on Nov. 3, 2020. Screenshot via YouTube
Mark Kelly holds a sizeable early lead in the most expensive U.S. Senate race in Arizona history and has been declared the winner by the Associated Press, a win that was coveted by Democrats in their quest to win control of the U.S. Senate.
With counting stopped Tuesday, Kelly led by more than 5 percentage points over incumbent Republican Martha McSally, who was appointed two years ago to the seat left vacant by late Sen. John McCain. Kelly’s lead was more than 144,000 votes with more than 75% of the anticipated votes counted.
On Tuesday night, Kelly addressed a gathering of his supporters in Tucson. While he didn’t declare himself the winner, he said he’s confident that he’ll emerge victorious.
“Now the work starts, we desperately need Washington to work for Arizona,” he said. “Let’s get to work, Arizona, and let’s do it together.”
The race mirrored the rhetoric at the presidential contest, with Kelly promising to be a “change” in a chamber that has aligned with President Donald Trump in issues of pandemic relief, healthcare and climate change. McSally warned against a “radical” agenda on the left and spoke on issues of the economy, border security and supporting law enforcement.
Arizona is ready for change, and we’re going to make it happen today. Great to see Arizonans doing their part to get out the vote in Phoenix and Scottsdale today. pic.twitter.com/hqdEa2ibob
— Captain Mark Kelly (@CaptMarkKelly) November 4, 2020
It’s McSally’s second bid for U.S. Senate. The Air Force veteran lost in 2018 when Arizona voters elected Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, marking the first time in three decades that Arizona sent a Democrat to the U.S. Senate.
Each contender accused the other of spreading misinformation.
McSally’s bid was promoted by President Donald Trump and Gov. Doug Ducey.
Kelly, a Navy veteran, astronaut and husband of former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, outraised his opponent by far. His election campaign raised nearly $90 million, while McSally’s election bid received almost $57 million. Kelly also outspent McSally in TV advertising.
Several left-leaning groups in Arizona also campaigned to get Kelly and other Democratic candidates elected, including Mission for Arizona, NextGen Arizona and Living United for Change in Arizona.
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