Kelly's victory in Arizona puts Democrats one seat away from control of the Senate

PHOENIX – Democratic Senator Mark Kelly won his re-election bid Friday in the crucial swing state of Arizona, defeating the Republican venture capitalist Blake Masters to put his party within one win of a clinch camera control for the next two years of Joe Biden’s presidency.

With Vice President Kamala Harris’ deciding vote, Democrats can retain control of the Senate by winning or Nevada competitionwhich remains too early to call, or next month runoff in Georgia.Republicans now need to win both races to take the majority.

The Arizona race is one of the few races Republicans have targeted in their bid to take control of the 50-50 Senate. It was a test of the inroads Kelly and other Democrats have made in a state once reliably dominated by the Republican Party. Kelly’s victory suggests Democratic success in Arizona was not an aberration during the presidency of Donald Trump.

The closely watched gubernatorial race between Democrat Katie Hobbs and Republican Kari Lake was too early to call Friday night. In the race for secretary of state, Democrat Adrian Fontes defeated Republican Mark Finchem, who is the most in denial about the 2020 election.

Kelly, a former NASA astronaut who flew four times in space, is married to a former U.S. representative. Gabby Giffordswho inspired the nation with her recovery from a gunshot wound to the head during a 2011 assassination attempt that killed six people and injured 13. Kelly and Giffords continued co-founded a gun safety advocacy group.

Kelly and Giffords were at an Elton John concert in Phoenix Friday night when the Associated Press announced the race, campaign spokeswoman Sarah Guggenheimer said. Maricopa County reported a large group of results that extended Kelly’s lead and showed Masters unable to close the gap with other ballots.

“It has been one of the great honors of my life to serve as Arizona’s senator,” Kelly said in a statement. “I am humbled by the confidence our state has placed in me to continue this work.”

Kelly’s victory in a 2020 special election spurred by the death of Republican Sen. John McCain, it gave Democrats both Arizona Senate seats for the first time in 70 years. The change was prompted by the state’s rapidly changing demographics and Trump’s unpopularity.

Kelly’s 2022 campaign has largely focused on his support for abortion rights, protecting Social Security, lowering drug prices and ensuring a stable water supply in the midst of a drought that has limited the depletion of the Colorado River in Arizona .

As President Joe Biden struggles with low approval ratings, Kelly distanced himself from the presidentespecially on border security, and downplayed his Democratic affiliation amid worries about the state of the economy.

He also cast himself as an independent, ready to defy his party, McCain-style.

Masters, an aide to billionaire tech investor Peter Thiel, tried to poke at Kelly’s independent image by equating him to Biden’s failure to secure the US-Mexico border and curb rampant inflation.

Masters appealed to many voters in the GOP primary with his tendency to provocations and contrarian thinking. He called for the privatization of Social Security, took a hard line against abortion, and promoted a racist theory, popular among white nationalists, that Democrats seek to use immigration to replace white people in America.

But after emerging hurt from a contested primary, Masters has struggled to raise money and has been put on the defensive for his controversial positions.

He won Trump’s endorsement after declaring that “Trump won in 2020,” but when pressed during a debate last month, he admitted he had seen no evidence the election was rigged. He later doubled down on the false claim that Trump had won.

After the primary, he deleted some of his more controversial positions from his website, but that wasn’t enough for the moderate voters who decided the election.

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