Democratic Arizona Senate candidate Mark Kelly defeated his Republican opponent Blake Masters Friday in the state’s tight election.
Kelly won 51% to 46% after the race’s results were delayed in the state over a slow count of the votes, The New York Times results found. The incumbent senator received 1.12 million votes with 83% of the vote in, while Masters raked in slightly over one million votes.
The incumbent senator held the seat that he first attained in a 2020 special election following the death of former Republican Arizona Sen. John McCain. Flipping the Arizona Senate seat was seen as crucial in Republicans’ quest to win back the Senate.
Kelly held a significant lead against his opponent throughout a large portion of the race. In August, he held a 10-point lead at 51%-40.9%, according to FiveThirtyEight. His lead largely dropped, however, with average polling showing that he led Masters by 1.5 percentage points, according to FiveThirtyEight. By election night, the two candidates were at a virtual tie, with Master garnering 48.3% and Kelly holding 48%, RealClearPolitics reported.
The incumbent senator vocally criticized President Joe Biden over his immigration and energy policies. He broke from his own party by opposing the reversal of Title 42, a COVID-19 protocol allowing for the expulsion of migrants to protect against the virus, according to CBS News.
He also said during an Oct. 7 debate against Masters that Biden was “wrong” to oppose increased fossil fuel production, despite having voted twice against amendments that would have required the administration to increase oil and gas drilling. (RELATED: ‘Look At Mark Kelly Squirm’: Arizona GOP Candidate Blake Masters Pounces As Opponent Dodges Questions On Biden Record)
Kelly, like most Democratic candidates, also relied on his support for abortion rights as a main issue in his campaign following the Supreme Court’s June decision overturning Roe v. Wade.
The senator out-raised Masters, raking in over $21 million from July 14 to Sept. 30, CNBC reported. By comparison, Masters raised $4.7 million during that same period. In October, Kelly’s campaign had $13 million while Masters’ held around $2.8 million.
Before serving in the Senate, Kelly served as a U.S. Navy pilot and NASA astronaut and co-founded Americans for Responsible Solutions with his wife, former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, in 2013. He currently serves on five different Senate committees — the Committee of Armed Services, Energy and Natural Resources, Environment and Public Works, the Special Committee on Aging and the Joint Economic Committee, according to his website.
The senator came under fire for raising roughly $154,000 from Democratic PACs since March 2019, despite pledging not to take any corporate dollars. Organizations that have funded Kelly’s campaign include $20,000 from the Green Mountain PAC and $17,500 from the Nutmeg PAC, a PAC associated with Democratic Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal. The senator received all of this money despite sponsoring a bill to ban corporations from influencing PACs.