Sen. Mark Kelly holds lead in Arizona reelection bid – KAWC | CarTailz

By Howard Fischer
Capitol Media Services
PHOENIX — With control of the U.S. Senate potentially at stake, votes tallied Wednesday afternoon show incumbent Democrat Mark Kelly of Arizona has a more than 90,000 vote lead over Republican challenger Blake Masters.
Overall, this gave Kelly 51.4% of the vote against 46.4% for Masters, with the rest going to libertarian Marc Victor, who dropped out of the race last month.
This comes as Kelly is seeking a full six-year term in the Senate seat formerly occupied by John McCain.
But the race could be decided on whether voters prioritize financial or social issues.
Masters has attempted to portray Kelly, elected in 2020, as little more than a political clone of a president with his own popularity woes. And that revolves around high gas prices, inflation and supply chain issues.
In contrast, Kelly has tried to convey the message that he will break up with Joe Biden when he disagrees with him, particularly on border security issues. However, that has not immunized him from attacks due to the flood of migrants from Mexico and the spread of fentanyl.
What he may have in his favor — aside from massive campaign spending of nearly $80 million on Oct. 19 — are voters who may be more concerned about the positions Masters has taken on the sensitive issue of abortion. And Kelly’s supporters have spent at least another $15 million to point out Masters’ sometimes contradictory statements on the matter.
There’s a video clip doing the rounds on the airwaves about what Masters thinks about abortion.
“It’s a religious sacrifice for these people,” he says. “I think it’s demonic.”
His campaign website says he is “100% pro-life” and supports a “federal personality law (ideally a constitutional amendment) that recognizes unborn babies are people who must not be killed.”
Masters subsequently removed Sch references from his campaign website. Instead, he announced his support for a 15-week ban, something that is currently law in Arizona while judges decide whether this measure, approved earlier this year, replaces a territory-era law that allowed abortions at any stage of the population Forbids pregnancy, except to save the mother’s life.
But Masters also said the 15-week limit should be made national law, which would defeat more liberal laws in other states. It would also eliminate any possibility that Arizonans could go to the vote in 2024 to restore the law here to how it was before the Supreme Court ruled Roe v. Wade annulled: to terminate a pregnancy until a fetus is considered viable outside the uterus, generally believed to be between 22 and 23 weeks.
In contrast, Kelly said he supports a national law that would restore that legal standard to what it was under Roe.
But he also voted in favor of the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would have prevented states from criminalizing the abortion of a viable fetus in cases where a woman’s life or health was at risk.
Those abortions, which were rare — 99.6% of Arizona abortions lasted 20 weeks or less in the last reporting year — were allowed under Roe and later Supreme Court rulings. But it prompted Masters to claim that Kelly “voted to legalize abortion up to the point of birth.”
Masters also had to answer questions about his statement during the GOP primary that “maybe we should privatize Social Security” and that “at some point we’ll have to cut the knot,” citing financial stability issues surrounding the program. But after becoming the Republican nominee, he took a more nuanced approach, saying he didn’t want to “take the rug off” current recipients, but instead look at other options and “prop up the system.”
However, all of that may not matter if voters focus on more immediate purse problems.
The Federal Reserve Board just hiked interest rates again, a move that is driving up the cost not only of mortgages but also of credit card debt and auto loans. Masters also found that Phoenix has the highest inflation rate of any major metropolitan area in the country.
And even though gasoline prices have come down lately, they still remain about 75 cents a gallon up from a year ago.
All of this works not only against Kelly, but also against Democratic candidates for the House of Representatives in Arizona and elsewhere.
Then there is the limit.
Masters said Kelly shares responsibility with Biden for the spate of people entering the United States illegally, a message reinforced by images of migrants on television.
For his part, Kelly has tried to immunize himself by pointing out that he disagrees with Biden’s decision to suspend Title 42, a law that allows the United States to expel virtually all non-citizens entering that country for health reasons . Instead, the senator introduced legislation to delay that decision until the US actually has “a detailed plan” for how to deal with the migrants.
Masters is also being carried along with some Republican faithful by governor hope Kari Lake, who has been campaigning for a Lake Blake ticket.
There is no such campaign connection between Kelly and Democrat Katie Hobbs, who is running her own gubernatorial race. But Kelly has other things working in his favor.
One of them is his marriage to Gabrielle Giffords, a congresswoman who was the target of an assassination attempt. This led Kelly to seek more regulation of firearms.
More visible is his time in the military as a naval pilot and astronaut, both of which are underscored in several television commercials that show him in a military uniform and spacesuit.
And Kelly addresses moderate Republicans, praising McCain and his reputation for walking the political aisle. In contrast, current leaders of the Arizona Republican Party have attempted to distance the GOP from McCain. And gubernatorial hopeful Lake just last week called McCain, who died of cancer in 2018, a “loser” and urged all McCain Republicans to “make hell” of their campaign rally.
The Masters campaign likely received a boost from Victor’s decision late last month to drop out of the race. Victor, who never polled outside of the single digits, said he spoke to Masters and concluded he was a better choice for voters than Kelly.
But that was three weeks after early voting began, and it left questions about how many Victor supporters have already cast their ballots.
The campaign here has drawn national attention as the Senate is currently split 50-50 with Vice President Kamala Harris casting the casting vote. Republicans are hoping to win a seat to regain control, with races in Arizona and Georgia offering particular opportunities.
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On Twitter: @azcapmedia

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