Capt. Mark Kelly was officially sworn in as a Democratic senator from Arizona Wednesday afternoon after defeating GOP Sen. Martha McSally last month.
Kelly was able to take office earlier than other senator-elects because he beat McSally in a special election, allowing him to be sworn in once Arizona certified its election results. He beat McSally by over two points in November, and will serve alongside Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema.
Kelly, a retired Navy captain and NASA astronaut, was sworn in alongside his wife, former Democratic Rep. Gabby Giffords, who survived an assassination attempt in 2011. After her recovery, Kelly became a vocal advocate for gun control policies including universal background checks and red flag laws and launched a group alongside his wife called Americans for Responsible Solutions.
He was one of two Democratic candidates to flip a Senate seat, along with Colorado Senator-elect John Hickenlooper. Their wins mean that Democrats will have at least 48 Senate seats in the next Congress, up from 47, since Democratic Sen. Doug Jones lost his reelection in Alabama. (RELATED: Chuck Schumer Says RBG’s Death, Candidate’s Extramarital Affair Cost Democrats The Senate)
With his win, Kelly will serve out the remaining two years of the late Sen. John McCain’s term and face reelection in 2022. The former Republican nominee for president was reelected in 2016 but passed away from brain cancer two years later.
On Tuesday, Kelly visited McCain’s gravesite to pay respects and said that McCain had been a heroic figure to him throughout his life.
This morning my family paid our respects to Senator John McCain as I prepare to be sworn in tomorrow. Senator McCain has been a hero of mine since I was a young pilot. He left a legacy of service to Arizona and country that can’t be matched, but that we should all strive towards. pic.twitter.com/CSkhVXPmfW
— Captain Mark Kelly (@CaptMarkKelly) December 1, 2020
With Kelly’s swearing-in, control of the Senate will come down to dual runoff races in Georgia. If Republican Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler hold onto their seats, the GOP will occupy 52 seats, but if their respective Democratic challengers, Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock, emerge victorious, the chamber will be split 50-50.
If the chamber is split for the 117th Congress then Democrats will hold the slimmest of majorities with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’s tie-breaking vote.
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