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U.S. Senate candidate Mark Kelly appeared on ABC’s The View on Wednesday, where his first order of business was telling Meghan McCain why he decided to run for her father’s old senate seat.

Kelly said he considered McCain’s father, former Arizona Sen. John McCain, a hero and a friend, and is running for his old seat because “elections are important.”

A retired astronaut and Navy captain, Kelly said that after seeing the direction the country has gone in over the last few years, he thinks he has something to offer. 

Kelly, who is running as a Democrat, said he would represent a change from the status quo that he says has not helped Arizona. “We have some serious issues that we’re facing in the state of Arizona and they’re not often being addressed,” Kelly said.

Much like former Sen. McCain, who was often referred to as a “maverick” for his willingness to buck his own party, Kelly said he’d be a strong independent voice for Arizonans and would “not influenced by any corporation or political party. “

“I think independence is so important, independence from the political party,” Kelly said.

Later in the interview, Kelly addressed the condition his wife, Gabby Giffords, a former Congresswoman in Arizona who nearly died after a gunman shot her during a public meeting with constituents in 2011. Kelly said she was doing great and continued to work hard to promote stronger gun safety laws through the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, an organization dedicated to combating gun violence.

When asked about his own stance on gun law reform, Kelly — who is a gun owner himself — said he supports common sense gun safety legislation that is supported by most Arizonans, such as universal background checks, red flag laws and stronger domestic violence legislation to help protect women.

Fifty-four percent of Arizonans say the state’s gun laws aren’t strict enough, according to an August poll of  likely presidential election voters from OH Predictive Insights. 

Kelly’s position on gun safety has raised the ire of the Arizona Republican Party and recently prompted Arizona GOP Chairwoman Kelly Ward to write a fundraising email saying Republicans will “stop gun-grabber Mark Kelly dead in his tracks.” 

Kelly told the View co-hosts that the email was “uncalled for” and that there was no place for that kind of language in our political discourse. 

He was also asked about climate change and was clear that action needed to be taken. “We’ve got to figure out a way to get from fossil fuels to get to more renewable energy and I think we’ve got a decade or so to figure this out, but we can’t continue to wait,” Kelly said. 

He underscored the urgency of the matter by adding “Make no mistake, we have no place else to go.”