A group seeking to elect scientists and candidates with STEM backgrounds to public office is launching a campaign to draft retired astronaut Mark Kelly for Arizona’s Senate race next year.
The group, 314 Action, is planning a six-figure digital advertisement as well as a microsite, DraftMarkKelly.org, where supporters can sign a petition to encourage Kelly to run in the special election slated for 2020. If he decides to mount a Senate bid, he’ll have access to the group’s email list and 500,000 member network.
Kelly, a Navy veteran, co-founded a gun control advocacy group with Giffords, who was critically injured in a 2011 mass shooting. He has also been vocal about combating climate change.
314 Action says Kelly’s science background would offer a different perspective in the Senate. The group wants to give him a headstart over other potential candidates if he decides to run.
“He’s spent the last 10 years looking at the damage climate change has done to our planet from a unique perspective,” Joshua Morrow, executive director of 314 Action, told The Hill. “He has such a different background. Voters are going to jump at the chance to support him.”
“Where other groups might wait to see how it plays out, 314 is going to be there right away,” Morrow added.
Kelly met with the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee last year, according to Politico. The Democratic field is likely to get crowded, especially after the party's statewide victory last election cycle.
Other Democrats considering a Senate bid include Rep. Ruben GallegoRuben GallegoWith Build Back Better, Dems aim to correct messaging missteps Poll shows Sinema's popularity dropping further among Arizona Democrats Cornyn says he 'would be surprised' if GOP tries to unseat Sinema in 2024 MORE (Ariz.) and Grant Woods, a former Republican attorney general who served as McCain’s chief of staff in the U.S. House. Woods recently registered as a Democrat.
McSally, a former House GOP lawmaker, narrowly lost her Senate bid in 2018 to Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, the first Arizona Democrat to win a seat in the upper chamber in 30 years.
The winner of the 2020 special election will serve out the remaining two years of McCain’s term and then will face reelection for a full, six-year term in 2022.