Former Astronaut Mark Kelly to Run for Senate in Arizona

Mark Kelly / Facebook
February 12, 2019

Former astronaut Mark Kelly announced Tuesday that he will run for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate in Arizona in 2020.

In a four-minute video posted on Twitter, Kelly reflects on his upbringing and how his mother inspired him as a child by her passing a physical fitness test designed for men in order to become a police officer.

"You know, my parents taught my brother and I the value of hard work. I always knew that I was going to serve this country in some way. I flew 39 combat missions in Operation Desert Storm over Iraq and Kuwait. By the time I met Gabby, I had already flown my first two flights on the space shuttle," he says before turning to his wife, former Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, and asking, "You remember when you first entered Congress for the first time?"

"Yes, so exciting," she responds.

Giffords, a former Arizona congresswoman, was shot in a 2011 assassination attempt while meeting constituents in Tucson.

"It was exciting. You know, I thought then that I had the risky job. Turned out, that you were the one who had the risky job," he continues.

The video then cuts to footage from the day Giffords was shot.

"One thing I realized early on was that Gabby needed me to help her through this, she needed an advocate. And the thing I have to do for my wife is to be able to think clearly and make good decisions," Kelly says.

"You know, I learned a lot from being an astronaut. I learned a lot from being a pilot in the Navy. I learned a lot about solving problems from being an engineer. But what I learned from my wife is how you use policy to improve people's lives," Kelly continues.

Kelly became a vocal proponent of reforming gun laws in the wake of the 2011 shooting. The couple formed a pro-gun control political action committee, Americans for Responsible Solutions, in 2013. Last August, he weighed into the debate surrounding Defense Distributed's Cody Wilson and his public design for printing guns at home. Kelly said it should illegal to possess the designs for 3D-printed guns.

Toward the end of the video, Kelly references some of the issues Arizonans are facing, including "access to affordable healthcare, the stagnation of wages, job growth, the economy," and climate change.

Kelly will try to unseat Sen. Martha McSally (R., Ariz.), who currently holds the seat vacated by the death of longtime Senator John McCain. Cook Political Report currently rates the race as leaning Republican.

McSally, who previously served as a congresswoman, narrowly lost a bid for the seat vacated by former Senator Jeff Flake in 2018. After the election, she was appointed to fill McCain's seat, which had been temporarily occupied by Jon Kyl.