The Arizona Senate race has been hanging in limbo ever since the midterm elections took place on Nov. 8.
The contest between Democrat incumbent Mark Kelly and Republican challenger Blake Masters has had all of America on the edge of its seat.
With an America First agenda, strong backing from President Trump and big money from conservative donors like Peter Thiel, Masters looked like he’d win this one.
But bad news is now coming out: the race has been called and the winner is Mark Kelly, who has now been re-elected to another term as the Senator from Arizona.
Kelly Takes the Crown
Kelly, a former astronaut and dedicated Democrat has been declared the winner, giving the Democrats a 49 seat outlook in the Senate and having them only one seat away from a majority.
If the Dems can now take Georgia’s runoff or another race in the balance they will command the Senate: a nightmare for Republicans who had been hoping for a red wave here.
Polls closed three days ago and this race in the Grand Canyon state really came down to the wire. Kelly didn’t do a particularly impressive job of campaigning and waffled on everything from the border to his own lack of accomplishment in his first term.
But it nonetheless turned out that he was seen as a more reliable choice than Masters, who was a much stronger candidate on the border, economy and America First conservative policies.
At the time of this writing, 83% of precincts are reporting and Kelly is ahead by 51.7% to 46.1% from Masters. The race has been called by most major networks and Masters does not have a path forward to come back from this kind of gap with this many precincts reporting and finalized.
🔥New: Mark Kelly wins Arizona! The Senate is now 49 – 49.
— Christopher Bouzy (@cbouzy) November 12, 2022
Why Did Kelly Win?
Kelly won this race by taking far more of the centrist vote. Voters who share some concerns with Masters but found him too hardline went for Kelly instead. This included 55% of independents as well.
Kelly also dominated the Latino vote in Arizona, taking Latinos by almost 20 points higher than masters.
Masters was a dedicated candidate, but he had trouble making his message stick with voters and all the Thiel money didn’t quite succeed in making his image softer and more relatable to enough voters.
There’s no doubt that Kelly has been an ineffective senator, and his attempts to fearmonger about abortion access and other issues were shameful during this election.
But he nonetheless succeeded in presenting himself as the “safe” choice who is middle of the road and portraying Masters as “extreme” or outside the realm of “normal” American politics.
2 more to 51-49.https://t.co/HJ1lI5nQ4m
— Jill Wine-Banks (@JillWineBanks) November 12, 2022
The Bottom Line
Arizona should be a red state. The fact it has gone back to blue and reelected Kelly does not speak well to the current state of the GOP.
This article appeared in StatesmanPost and has been published here with permission.