U.S. Senate Race — Martha McSally versus Mark Kelly

The candidates running for Senate are incumbent Martha McSally against Democratic challenger Mark Kelly

The special election for former Sen. John McCain's seat will feature its current occupant, Republican Sen. Martha McSally, and Democratic challenger Mark Kelly.

The winner of the seat will fulfill the final two years of McCain's term and will have to run again for a full six-year term in 2022.

The outcome of the race could have important implications on the makeup of the Senate. If Kelly were to win, he could help shift the Senate to the Democratic Party and be in office in time to vote in the confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett.

Martha McSally — Republican


Sen. Martha McSally addresses the crowd at President Donald Trump’s “Keep America Great” rally on Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020, at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix.

McSally was appointed to the Senate by Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey following her loss to now Sen. Kyrsten Sinema and the resignation of Jon Kyl in 2018. 

McSally is a retired Air Force colonel. During her service, she became the first woman in U.S. history to fly a fighter jet in combat and to command a fighter squadron in combat.

Prior to being appointed to the Senate, McSally represented Arizona's 2nd Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. She has been endorsed by President Donald Trump and appeared in his campaign rallies in Arizona.

In the Senate, McSally is a member of five committees: the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, the Senate Armed Services Committee, the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, and the Senate Special Committee on Aging. 

Education: In the past as a representative, McSally co-sponsored House Resolution 6259, known as the Make Education Local Act, which would have allowed states to decide how to use federal funds provided for educational purposes. 

Health care: As a representative, McSally voted in favor of the American Health Care Act, which would have undone parts of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. 

Immigration and border control: McSally supports the building of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and voted for the Securing America's Future Act, which would have allowed Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients to apply for “contingent non-immigrant status,” a three-year term which can be renewed.

Economy: McSally's campaign does not provide an explicit economic policy. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, McSally was appointed to Trump's economic recovery task force.

Civil rights and civil liberties: McSally has not made gun regulations a central aspect of her campaign. However, Trump labeled her as "strong" on the Second Amendment when he announced his endorsement of her on Twitter. 

McSally received an "A" rating from Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life scorecard, meaning she has "voted consistently to protect the lives of unborn babies and infants."

Mark Kelly — Democrat


Captain Mark Kelly, 2020 Arizona Senate candidate, speaks with ASU's Young Democrats club on Friday, April 19, 2019, in Tempe, Arizona.

If elected, this would be Kelly's first time holding office as an elected official. Kelly is a former NASA astronaut, retired U.S. Navy captain and the husband of former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. 

Education: According to his campaign website, Kelly's education plan emphasizes funding for schools, including increased teacher pay and providing students with access to STEM classes, trade programs and advanced placement classes.

In regards to higher education, Kelly wants to fully fund Pell Grants and other forms of financial aid and lower the interest rates on federal student loans, to ultimately reduce the amount of debt students graduate with. 

Health care: Kelly's campaign website states that he considers health care to be a right. Kelly believes there should be a public health care option to compete against private insurance and ultimately reduce costs overall. 

Kelly also supports lowering prescription drug costs and "cracking down on bad actors" involved in the opioid epidemic. 

Immigration and border control: Kelly believes in secure borders and reforming the immigration system, with his campaign website saying "there is no other issue where the state of Arizona has suffered more due to the dysfunction in Washington." 

Kelly prioritizes funding advancements in technology to secure the U.S.-Mexico border, such as E-Verify, rather than relying solely on physical barriers.  

Kelly has also stated his support of recipients of DACA.

Economy: Kelly's campaign website claims he will be "a champion" for Arizona's working and middle classes. Kelly believes in ending tax breaks for the "super-wealthy and big corporations," and investing in infrastructure, research and development for long-term economic benefits. 

Civil rights and civil liberties: One of Kelly's top priorities is gun safety. According to his campaign website, he attributes his support for "commonsense, effective gun laws" to the fact he is a gun owner and combat veteran, as well as his experiences following the shooting of his wife, Giffords. 

Kelly believes in universal background checks, which he advocates for alongside other gun laws through an organization he and his wife found and named after Giffords.

Kelly states he is a supporter of equal rights for women, adding he will fight against discriminatory wage gaps and for expanding paid family leave policies. Kelly is pro-choice regarding reproductive rights and was endorsed by NARAL Pro-Choice America.


Reach the reporter at drodish@asu.edu and follow @david_rodish on Twitter.

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