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Mark Kelly reflects on using McCain's old desk: 'He was a hero of mine'

Sen.-elect Mark KellyMark KellyKoch-backed group launches ads urging lawmakers to reject COVID-19 relief bill Conservative groups seek to bolster opposition to Biden's HHS pick On The Trail: Trump threatens a Tea Party redux MORE (D-Ariz.) said Friday he's looking forward to using the late Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainCindy McCain planning 'intimate memoir' of life with John McCain Trump-McConnell rift divides GOP donors Arkansas state senator says he's leaving Republican Party MORE's (R) old desk in Washington when he enters office, saying the veteran lawmaker was one of his heroes growing up.

Kelly, who is expected to be sworn in sometime in December, told the Arizona Republic that he had spoken with McCain’s widow, Cindy McCain, about working in her husband’s old office. 

“I mean, this is John McCain, and somebody that I looked up to when I was a 22-year-old pilot in flight school,” Kelly said. “He was the example of how you serve your country under the most challenging circumstances."

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"He was a hero of mine when I was young, and we often don’t get to meet our heroes. It’s also much less often that you eventually get to call them a friend and to be elected to his United States Senate seat, that — that’s a very big deal for me," he added.

Kelly, a former NASA astronaut and Navy combat pilot, defeated incumbent Sen. Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyNew rule shakes up Senate Armed Services subcommittees The Seventeenth Amendment and the censure of Donald Trump Ex-astronaut Mark Kelly jokes about piloting congressional subway MORE (R) in a special election last week to finish the rest of McCain's term through 2022. McSally called Kelly on Friday to concede the race.

Kelly told the Arizona Republic that the opponents spoke for five to 10 minutes.

“It was a good call,” he said. “Really very nice and positive, and we were talking about how we can best work together here over the next three to four weeks.”

McSally was appointed to fill the Senate seat in late 2018 after McCain died following a battle with brain cancer. McCain had last won reelection in 2016.

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Kelly will now join Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D) in the upper chamber. It will be the first time in 67 years that two Democrats will represent Arizona in the Senate. Kelly traveled to the Capitol Hill this week with other incoming senators for his orientation.

“I will say after 21 months of campaigning — campaigns are about reaching out to folks in places where they live and work throughout Arizona —  it’s sort of abstract,” he told the Arizona Republic. “And then within a week, I find myself sitting there on the Senate floor and that’s when it becomes just very, very real, that the election is over and now it’s time to get to work.” 

Kelly is eligible to take the oath of office as soon as Arizona certifies its election results, which is scheduled for Nov. 30. He told the outlet that he expects to take office in early December. 

“Well, I mean, this concession thing is, I mean, it's not like a formal part of the process,” he said. “I think it's important that people when they're going to make this call, they do it on their own . … That it occurred over a week, you know, 10 days after the election, that’s fine with me.”