Arizona GOP senator in trouble as challenger pulls in massive fundraising haul


Former astronaut Mark Kelly brought in an eye-popping $4.2 million in the last three months as he attempts to oust Republican Sen. Martha McSally.

Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ) could see trouble on the horizon as her likely opponent, former astronaut Mark Kelly, raised $4.2 million over the last three months in his quest to unseat her, the Arizona Republic reported Tuesday.

In a show of grassroots enthusiasm, more than 90% of Kelly's donors over the past three months gave less than $100. The average contribution was $45, according to the campaign.

Since he announced his campaign in February, Kelly has raised $8.3 million, a show of strength in what most experts expect to be one of the most competitive Senate races in 2020.

"Kelly is one of the first people mentioned by national Democrats when they talk about their chances of picking up Republican seats — he's usually mentioned first," Larry Sabato, a political science professor at the University of Virginia, told the Arizona Republic. "He may be one of the very few Senate candidates to outspend an incumbent and that doesn't happen very often."

As Kelly rides a wave of momentum, McSally's campaign is already showing signs of strain. McSally lost the 2018 Arizona senate race to Democrat Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, and only serves because she was appointed by the state's governor to fill out the remainder of Sen. John McCain's term.

In late June, Politico reported McSally replaced the top leadership of her campaign. She also begged the White House to help bolster her campaign, fearing a possible Republican primary before she has to face Kelly. Her loyalty to Trump paid off, as he tweeted out an endorsement of McSally.

"Martha McSally didn’t lose in 2018 because of her staff, she lost because of her out-of-touch record," Brad Bainum, Arizona Democratic Party spokesperson, said in statement about McSally's campaign shake-up.

Bainum highlighted McSally's health care record, noting she voted over and over to remove health care protections for millions of Arizonians who have preexisting conditions.

McSally has not reported her fundraising total over the same period, but the Arizona Republic reports that Kelly will likely have the financial advantage.

"This campaign started with a sonic boom just 140 days ago and it hasn't slowed down," Jen Cox, Kelly's campaign manager, said in a statement.

Democrats need to flip at least three Senate seats from red to blue in order to have a chance at regaining control of the chamber. With millions in the bank, Kelly is making sure Arizona will continue to be at the top of the list for Democrats.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.