2020 Election

Mark Kelly Dodges on Ending Filibuster

Mark Kelly
Mark Kelly / Getty Images

Arizona Democratic Senate candidate Mark Kelly is skirting questions on ending the Senate filibuster, as he seeks to appeal to both moderates and a party base that supports the contentious proposal.

Kelly, the frontrunner against incumbent Republican Martha McSally, danced around the subject Wednesday, telling The View that he thought the issue "shouldn’t be part of the discussion."

"It’s also very hypothetical. And it’s kind of more of the same stuff from a broken Washington," he said.

The filibuster is one of many issues on which Kelly has avoided or delayed taking a clear stance throughout the campaign. Others include the Green New Deal, school reopening, and impeaching President Donald Trump.

Multiple Democratic leaders and candidates have called for ending the filibuster if the party regains control of the Senate in 2020. Former president Barack Obama endorsed ending the practice over the summer, calling it a "Jim Crow relic," and vice-presidential candidate Kamala Harris has also voiced support for the idea.

Other Democrats, however, have cautioned against it. Former New York Democratic Party executive director Basil Smikle told The Hill that Joe Biden should avoid the subject, warning that it could "elicit backlash from the moderate voters."

Under current rules, the chamber cannot vote on most matters unless at least 60 senators agree to end debate and move the issue to the floor. Without the filibuster, a simple majority of 51 senators could make that call.

Kelly told Arizona podcast The Gaggle last month that he still had to study the issue before he could come to a decision.

"I think everybody recognizes it as a big decision. It’s not in the Constitution. It’s been used to stop progress by both parties," Kelly said. "So it’s something that I will take very seriously. And I'll look at both sides."

When pressed by the Arizona Republic this week, a Kelly spokesman said he couldn’t do "much to expand" on the candidate's answer. The Kelly campaign did not respond to the Washington Free Beacon‘s request for comment.

Ending the filibuster is not the only divisive issue Kelly has ducked during the campaign. He has yet to say whether he would support Democratic proposals to pack the Supreme Court—or even if he would vote for Sen. Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) to continue as party floor leader.

He similarly equivocated in early August about school reopening during the coronavirus outbreak.

"Well, we’ve got to do it safely, first of all," he said. "And the federal government, clearly, has to help school districts provide a safe environment for students."

Kelly also gave conflicting answers on supporting his party's nominee before finally endorsing Biden in March, and he stonewalled for months before coming out against the Green New Deal legislation last year.

When The View’s Sunny Hostin quizzed Kelly last September about whether he was in favor of impeaching Trump, Kelly said he was unsure because he hadn't read the hearing transcript.

"I have it here if you would like to," offered Hostin.

"Well, I don’t know if we have enough time," said Kelly. "But I, you know, I think this is serious and, you know, we’ve got to work through the details and it’s a process."

Five months later, after Trump was impeached by the House and acquitted by the Senate, Kelly stated that he would have voted to impeach.