Mark Kelly Rockets Past Billionaire’s Boy Blake Masters in Arizona

Photo Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast/Getty
Photo Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast/Getty

Sen. Mark Kelly, the former astronaut who won one of the tightest statewide races in the country two years ago, has won a full term in office, beating political newcomer Blake Masters in a result that could determine control of the U.S. Senate.

In 2020, Kelly was sworn into office to fill out the term of the late Sen. John McCain after a special election that he won by less than three points.

Arizona’s reputation as a Republican stronghold has broken in recent election cycles, but a challenging national environment for Democratic candidates and a massive fundraising boost in recent weeks for Masters—as well as the Libertarian candidate dropping out of the race and endorsing his Republican opponent—narrowed the race from a double-digit lead for the incumbent to the single digits before Tuesday’s election.

A former Navy aviator, Kelly first entered politics as an advocate for reforming the nation’s gun laws following the 2011 assassination attempt on his wife, former congresswoman Gabby Giffords. With a moderate voting record in office, Kelly pitched himself to Grand Canyon State voters as a level-headed consensus builder with a reputation for working with Republicans on Capitol Hill—and depicted his opponent as a political novice in the pocket of far-right extremists and shady tech billionaires.

“I think we all know guys like this,” Kelly said of Masters in their sole debate in October. “Guys that think they know better than everyone about everything. You think you know better than women and doctors about abortion. You even think you know better than seniors about Social Security. You think you know better than veterans about how to win a war.”

“Folks, we all know guys like this, and we can’t be letting them make decisions about us because it’s just dangerous.”

Why MAGA Worshipper Blake Masters Has Arizona Sen. Mark Kelly on the Run

Masters, a Bitcoin millionaire whose candidacy has been largely bankrolled by venture capitalist Peter Thiel, was originally a longshot for the Republican nomination. But a tight embrace of election denialism and anti-immigrant sentiment helped him defeat a crowded field of primary opponents—even if his general election campaign was dogged by allegations of anti-Black racism, political cronyism, and flirtation with 9/11 conspiracy theories.

Kelly, meanwhile, contrasted himself as a commonsense moderate opposed to corporate and out-of-state interests controlling the state’s political future—and emphasizing dozens of Republicans who had endorsed his candidacy over Masters’.

“I’m so grateful for the broad coalition of Arizonans who understand that we can accomplish more for this state if we work together,” Kelly said after announcing more than 40 such endorsements in August. “That’s exactly what I do every day in the Senate, where I focus on putting Arizona first—not any political party.”

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