Mark Kelly was sworn in this week as the newest member of the U.S. Senate, giving Arizona two Democratic members in Congress’ upper chamber and temporarily shaving the GOP’s majority.

Fellow Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema escorted Kelly to his ceremony, conducted by Vice President Mike Pence. Both men wore masks, as did Sinema, and bumped elbows when the oath was finished, according to The Associated Press.


Kelly’s wife and former Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords — who was shot in the head during a mass shooting nine years ago — had walked Kelly into the building and joined his twin brother, Scott Kelly, in the visitors’ gallery to watch the proceedings.

Following the ceremony, the members adjourned for a photo in the Old Senate Chamber, where Pence and Kelly, a former astronaut, discussed the military and NASA. 

“This is an honor for me,” Pence reportedly said. “Congratulations.” 

The 56-year-old Kelly bested Republican incumbent Sen. Martha McSally in November, narrowing GOP control of the upper chamber to a majority of 52 seats. Kelly was sworn in this week because he ran in a special election to fill a seat once held by the late Sen. John McCain.

Other winners in the November general election won’t take office until January, and Georgia’s runoff elections the same month will ultimately decide control of the chamber. 

Kelly’s swearing-in marks a new chapter in the state’s politics. Arizona is historically red but flipped in favor of now President-elect Joe Biden, becoming a key rung on the ladder to victory. 

This year marks the first time Arizona has had two Democratic senators since January 1953.

Kelly, however, is a self-described moderate. Centrism played a key role in his campaign, during which McSally attempted to paint him as a radical progressive parroting party ideals.

Because Kelly is filling the remainder of the six-year term that McCain won in 2016, he will be up for reelection in just two years.

It is notable that Kelly’s race was one of the country’s most expensive, eventually reaching $89 million.

Since McSally conceded the special election, Kelly has formed a bipartisan transition team — including both popular Democrats and allies of McCain.

As coronavirus cases surge across the country, Kelly’s main priority is combatting the pandemic. He wrote in an op-ed column released Monday that he is working with both sides to devise an effective strategy. 


Kelly told The Arizona Republic on Wednesday that he felt great after taking his oath of office

“Now the job starts,” he said. “What matters is what happens from here forward and what can I do to improve folks’ lives in the state of Arizona.”

Julia Musto –

Source link