TUCSON, Ariz. - Who should hold the Senate seat Senator John McCain held? That’s the question for a special election this November.
Governor Doug Ducey appointed former Congresswoman Martha McSally to the seat. Now she’s facing retired Astronaut Mark Kelly as voters decide who should be Senator through 2023.
Rather than bog down in the charge and counter-charge of modern campaigning, we wanted to keep things simple. We met outdoors and kept our distance.
Our invitation to each candidate was: sell yourself. Why should voters choose you to look out for Arizona in the United States Senate?
McSally says she’s tied for the most bills passed through the Senate.
“I've saved the A-10 warthog -- that plane that I flew that is so critical for Davis Monthan Air Force Base, you know I've fought to ensure that the Cherrybell Postal processing facility stayed open while I was in the House and we're still engaging on that," she said. "When I'm in the Senate, strong support for Raytheon and the University of Arizona.
McSally retired from the Air Force as a Colonel. Martha McSally was our country’s first woman to fly in combat and commanded an A-10 squadron. She says the qualities she learned in the service help her in the Senate.
“And when you see a problem, we need to do what's best for the country do what's best for your constituents, and then just tirelessly work to try and find common ground," she said. "We had to do that in the military, right? We put aside our differences, we focus on the mission in order to protect and serve others and so that mindset and those core values, allow me to be effective in Washington.”
So what will it say if Arizona voters send Martha McSally back to the United States Senate?
McSally says, “Well Arizona is an independent state. We care about our freedoms and our way of life, I've been fighting for Arizona. I'm going to continue to fight for Arizona. What kind of country do you want to live in? Who do you trust to get the economy going again to keep your family safe to stand up to China, border security, support for our military?”
As with Martha McSally we tried to stay away from the endless charges and counter-charges that can dominate a campaign. We just sat down with Mark Kelly -- socially distanced -- and asked him to sell himself to Arizona voters.
Kelly says, “Both Senator McSally and I are both combat veterans. But I'm also an engineer. I served at NASA for 15 years. I have experience leading groups of people with diverse backgrounds to do very difficult and complicated things. And I think the United States Senate is lacking that.”
Kelly is running as a Democrat but he cites Republican John McCain’s reputation for building compromise across party lines at a time when partisan positions are common and compromise is rare.
Kelly says, “I think it means you have to have change. And if that change means, you got to have different folks serving in the United States Senate. Sure, I mean, I think that at this point, the partisanship and the uncompromising way our government is trying to function right now -- I think that's the kind of change you need.”
Kelly says he wants to address climate change and rebuild the post-COVID economy with jobs that look towards the future.
So what does it say if Arizona voters choose Mark Kelly for the Senate?
“I think it says they want somebody who's going to stand up to make sure that they don't lose their health care coverage that the price of their prescription medications come down. I think it says that they want somebody who's going to work in an independent way, who isn't going to be a partisan.”