Science group seeks to draft Mark Kelly for 2020 Arizona Senate race

Science group seeks to draft Mark Kelly for 2020 Arizona Senate race
© Greg Nash

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.

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Kelly, the husband of former Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-Ariz.), has been floated as a potential Democratic candidate to challenge Sen. Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyPolitical establishment takes a hit as chaos reigns supreme Democrats optimistic about chances of winning Senate Where things stand in 13 battleground states MORE (R-Ariz.), who was appointed late last year to fill the seat of the late GOP Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainJuan Williams: Time for boldness from Biden Democrats lead in three battleground Senate races: poll Republican Scott Taylor wins Virginia primary, to face Elaine Luria in rematch MORE.

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 GallegoHouse panel votes to limit Trump's Germany withdrawal The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - As virus concerns grow, can it get worse for Trump? Latino man's death in Tucson fuels debate over police brutality on Hispanics 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.