Arizona Sen. Mark Kelly fends off GOP challenger Blake Masters


Sen. Mark Kelly, an Arizona Democrat, defeated Republican tech investor Blake Masters in one of the hardest-fought Senate races of the election season.

The race was called Friday by the Associated Press, though official results will take longer.

Once consistently GOP territory, Arizona has stutter-stepped into battleground status in recent elections, siding with Joe Biden over President Trump by just over 10,000 votes two years ago.

It has also been fertile ground for 2020 election conspiracy theories, creating a combustible political environment with multiple high-profile statewide races at stake.

Trump exerted significant pull in the Republican primaries, propelling his picks, including gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake and secretary of state hopeful Mark Finchem, to the general election.

Masters, a 36-year-old political novice, similarly owed his success in the primary to Trump’s endorsement, as well as ample financial backing from tech titan Peter Thiel. But his candidacy prompted concerns among the GOP establishment that his embrace of Trump’s election lies and a call to privatize Social Security would be a drag on his candidacy.

Kelly, who eked out a 2-percentage-point win in a special election in 2020, took advantage of Masters’ more extreme positions, including hard-line antiabortion stances and comments he made disparaging the military.

A former astronaut, Kelly entered politics several years after his wife, then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), was wounded by a gunman in 2011.

Republicans sought to paint Kelly as a loyal ally of Biden, who has a dismal approval rating in Arizona. In Washington, he was a reliable Democratic vote — a contrast to his fellow Arizona Democrat, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, who often upended her party’s legislative agenda.

Still, Kelly, 58, sought to differentiate himself from Biden over immigration, criticizing the White House’s handling of security on the southern border.

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