Mark Kelly and Martha McSally

Democrats hoping to take back the US Senate are understandably excited about the prospects of former astronaut Mark Kelly beating 'incumbent" Sen. Martha McSally. McSally was appointed to the seat formerly held by John McCain shortly after she lost her 2018 Senate bid to Democrat Kyrsten Sinema. McSally has struggled to define who she is. During her two terms in Congress before running for the Senate, McSally was what passed for a "moderate" Republican, and in 2016, even condemned Donald Trump's "Access Hollywood" tape as "disgusting" and "unacceptable." You won't hear any of that sort of talk from McSally these days, as she's done all she can to cozy up to Trump and the Trumpy Right.

Mark Kelly, on the other hand, is a goddamned astronaut who's married to former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, and has staked out a position as a reasonable human being who thinks government can actually accomplish things, especially when it's composed of people who are grounded in reality, as you might expect from a science and engineering guy. (Or at least one who doesn't think Atlas Shrugged is a work of philosophy.) In his campaign announcement video last year, Kelly said issues like health care and climate have to be addressed by people who know how they work:

We've seen this retreat from science and data and facts, and if we don't take these issues seriously, we can't solve these problems.

In fact, let's take another look at that video, because it's damn good politicking:

My Next Mission youtu.be



It's a really good ad and we didn't tear up at all at the part where Kelly talks about the 2010 assassination attempt on Giffords that also killed six people. He says to Giffords that, what with being a Navy fighter jockey and an astronaut, 'I thought then that I had the risky job." Following photos of Giffords in intensive care and rehabilitation, Kelly quickly moves from the personal to the bigger picture:

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.

Per aspera ad astra, fuckers. Also shut up, Dear Reader, you're crying.

Kelly definitely paid attention to the fact that in 2018, voters who considered healthcare the most important issue overwhelmingly went for Sinema over McSally. On his campaign's "Issues" page, healthcare is listed first and Kelly notes that both he, as a cancer survivor, and Giffords, as the survivor of a shooting, have a deep appreciation of how important reliable coverage is. He says he considers healthcare a right for all Americans, though he defines that as affordable insurance for all, with a public option.

We'd tell you what McSally's "issues" page says, but she doesn't have one. Her "about" page says she's working to "secure our borders, support our veterans, and lower healthcare costs," and that's it. But she does have a cute golden retriever named Boomer, and that's better than having any policies.

Expect Kelly to remind voters again of McSally's excitement at the prospect of taking healthcare away from millions of Americans during Trump's first failed attempt to kill Obamacare. Sinema probably won't mind if Kelly borrows this tweet:

McSally has openly been trying to escape her own record whenever possible. In December, she insisted that her votes to kill Obamacare could not possibly be seen as an attempt to strip away protections for people with preexisting conditions, although that's exactly what killing Obamacare would do. She whined to a Republican group that she just didn't have the money to respond to all the campaign ads — both from Kelly and Democratic super-PACS — that had been hammering her on healthcare,and could someone please please help out?

As she is wont to do, she reminded everyone that she used to drive A-10 attack planes in the Air Force, and where are the Warthogs coming to her rescue with depleted uranium rounds of votes, or at least well-funded obfuscation?

We need close air support to show up. There's outside groups. We can't talk to them. We can't invite them, but we pray for them every day. We need conservative outside groups, you know, to wake up, and get involved, and start muddying up the landscape a little bit, so I'm not just sitting here taking incoming and not having any A-10s show up, you know overhead, to help me out. [emphasis added -- Dok]

We like the part where she complains she can't break campaign finance law by coordinating with super-PACs.

McSally has also tried to emulate Dear Leader's attacks on the media; in January, during Trump's impeachment trial, CNN's Manu Raju asked her a completely outrageous gotcha question about whether the Senate should "consider new evidence during the impeachment trial," which is the sort of insane unfair thing the media gets up to these days. McSally made her bid for a catchphrase, replying, "You're a liberal hack. I'm not talking to you. You're a liberal hack." And then she immediately set to trying to fundraise off her brave defiance of media hackery. Imagine, asking questions like that!

As the Arizona Republic reported Friday, McSally did indeed bring in some money after the encounter. Just one problem: It had far better results for Mark Kelly:

Kelly took in $166,000 on Jan. 16, the day it happened, while McSally received $82,000, based on publicly disclosed donations. Over the next seven days, Kelly collected $547,000 to her $281,000, even as she doubled down on her attack on the reporter with at least two national television appearances with Fox News hosts Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham and on Mark Levin's radio show.

Arizona residents decidedly gave to Kelly over McSally by similar, lopsided margins in the same period.

And for that matter, since announcing his candidacy in February 2019, Kelly has outraised McSally in all five fundraising quarters.

Kelly has also outpolled McSally since last August, beating her in the last nine polls. The most recent Arizona poll by OH Predictive Insights, released April 15, had Kelly increasing his lead a bit, putting him nine points ahead of McSally; the previous poll by the same firm had him up by seven points. This month's polling had more good news for Kelly: He's ahead of McSally by ten points in Maricopa County, which includes the Phoenix metro area. Apart from one 2015 race for Superintendent of Public Instruction, nobody in recent history has won a statewide election in Arizona without taking Maricopa County.

Kelly also has two-thirds of the polling among "independents," which in Arizona can mean anything from "I hate everybody" to "I'm just too embarrassed to say I'm a Republican anymore."

None of which means Kelly can afford to get cocky, as any good space hero should know. It's Arizona, and Arizona has a reputation for crazy swings. There's tantalizing polling showing Trump trailing Joe Biden in 12 of the last 13 polls in Arizona, and Trump, in general, has been more popular in those polls than McSally. But for the moment, the campaign, like everything else, is sort of on hold with all this Rona in Zona.

McSally, predictably enough, has been calling for the head of the World Health Organization to resign, while blaming the pandemic on China and going full racist stereotype about just how disgusting Chinese people are. Earlier this month, she told the AP (presumably after the obligatory "you're a liberal hack" greeting),

They've been lying to their own people and they've been lying to the world about this pandemic that started, allegedly, with their disgusting and inhumane and deadly practices in these wet markets, where they have live and dead animals gutted and it's just disgusting, their practices.

That's not racial transcendence, to coin a phrase.

As for Trump's clusterfucky response to the pandemic, McSally said "Nobody's perfect," although she also effusively praised the Great Man for delivering 100 ventilators to Arizona, which is nice, and only a liberal hack would point out that state health officials had requested 5,000 ventilators from the national stockpile.

That ask was approved by federal officials. But Arizona's request was dramatically downsized to just 500 ventilators last week as it became clear that the federal government didn't actually have the resources to follow through on its original agreement. By ultimately sending 100, the feds are fulfilling just 2 percent of what they initially agreed to send and only 20 percent of the request the state made just last week.

Kelly, a guy who knows that government can actually keep people alive for extended periods outside the Earth's atmosphere, has been a bit less impressed with all the winning, and has called on Trump to use the Defense Production Act more aggressively to save lives.

"I just feel we haven't done enough to try and stay ahead of this — to think, 'What's it going to be like two weeks, three weeks from now?' And prepare for that today. We're just not seeing that."

If you'd like to help turn the Senate blue and send a steely-eyed but empathetic missile man to fix government, you might want to send Mark Kelly's campaign a few bucks.

Also this is now your open thread!

[Arizona Republic / AP / Arizona Mirror / Vox / Politico / Mother Jones / The Hill / Mark Kelly for Senate]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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