Could Mark Kelly really go from Navy captain to NASA astronaut to U.S. Senator?
If his year’s third-quarter fundraising numbers are any indication, the answer could very well be yes. Kelly, who is running as a Democrat against Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz), raised nearly twice as much money as her during the third quarter of 2019, marking the third straight quarter he outraised the incumbent.
Kelly brought in more than $5.5 million during the third quarter, his campaign told The Arizona Republic on Monday. Kelly’s fundraising haul is all the more impressive considering it came mostly from small-dollar donors — the average contribution was $36. Kelly has raised $14 million so far this year from more than 145,000 donors and his campaign has about $9.5 million cash on hand, according to the Arizona Republic.
McSally, by comparison, brought in only $3 million, according to her campaign, with an average donation of $64 from 47,000 contributions. She has $5.6 million on hand.
“The support that we’re seeing for this Mission for Arizona is simply out of this world,” Jen Cox, Kelly’s campaign manager, told the Arizona Republic. “The past few months, Mark has been talking with Arizonans from Window Rock to Clarkdale to Parker about solutions to tackle rising health care costs and the price of prescription drugs. This campaign is demonstrating the power of putting Arizona first, not corporate PACs and not divisive politics.”
Kelly, who has fashioned himself as an independent voice who is “not influenced by any corporation or political party,” took to Twitter on Monday to thank his donors.
Kelly’s strong fundraising numbers came just weeks after Arizona Republican Party chair Kelli Ward wrote in a fundraising email that together, they would “stop gun-grabber Mark Kelly dead in his tracks.”
Kelly is married to Gabby Giffords, a former Congresswoman from Arizona who nearly died after a gunman shot her during a public meeting with constituents in 2011. She has since gone on to launch the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, an organization dedicated to combating gun violence and promoting stronger gun safety laws.
Kelly — who is a gun owner himself — has said he supports common sense gun safety legislation that is supported by most Arizonans, such as universal background check and red flag laws, but his campaign called Ward’s “gun grabber” attack a lie.
He has otherwise remained focused on the issues and says 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 during a recent appearance on The View.
While Kelly is expected to easily earn the Democratic nomination, McSally faces a primary fight challenge from hardline conservative Daniel McCarthy, while entrepreneur Blake Masters is also considering joining the race.
Should McSally emerge victorious and face off against Kelly, it could become one of the most expensive and hard-fought races in Arizona history.
A recent poll from OH Predictive Insights found Kelly leading McSally by five points, 46-41. The survey had a 4% margin of error and was conducted on August 13 and August 14, with a sample of 600 respondents identified as likely voters.
The August poll marked a significant shift from the organization’s last poll, conducted in May, which showed McSally leading Kelly by one point, 45-44.
If Kelly does emerge victorious over McSally next November, it would be the second time she’s lost an Arizona senate seat in three years, after her 2018 defeat at the hands of now-Senator Kyrsten Sinema.