Kelly Win Brings Dems One Undecided Race Away From Retaining Senate Control

TUCSON, ARIZONA - NOVEMBER 08: U.S. Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ) delivers remarks to supporters at his election night rally at the Rialto Theatre on November 08, 2022 in Tucson, Arizona. Senator Mark Kelly is running for r... TUCSON, ARIZONA - NOVEMBER 08: U.S. Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ) delivers remarks to supporters at his election night rally at the Rialto Theatre on November 08, 2022 in Tucson, Arizona. Senator Mark Kelly is running for reelection against his Republican opponent Blake Masters. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images) MORE LESS

A Friday evening batch of ballots logged by Maricopa County were enough to make it official: Senator Mark Kelly (D) is projected to win another term.

That brings Democrats within one as-yet-undecided seat of retaining Senate control, defying historical trends and many prognosticators’ expectations.

That seat could come from Nevada, where the race between Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D) and Adam Laxalt (R) remains undecided, or from Georgia, where Sen. Raphael Warnock (D) and Herschel Walker (R) are headed to a December runoff after neither candidate crested 50 percent of the vote.

“Thank you to the people of Arizona for re-electing me to the United States Senate,” Kelly said in a statement. “From day one, this campaign has been about the many Arizonans — Democrats, Independents, and Republicans — who believe in working together to tackle the significant challenges we face.”

With Kelly’s victory, we say goodbye, at least for now, to one of the weirdest Trump-boosted candidates of the cycle, Blake Masters.

For Masters, the race has been as much about serving the state of Arizona as it has been about embodying the interests of Peter Thiel, the Silicon Valley billionaire and conservative idealogue who supported Trump’s 2016 run and espouses a dark view of America’s democratic future. 

Masters brought some of the bog-standard Thiel-world baggage to the race: apart from calls to privatize Medicare and Social Security, the 36-year old venture capitalist was once a prolific poster on libertarian forums, writing once as an undergraduate at Stanford that the “Houses of Morgan and Rothschild” held responsibility for American involvement in World War I. 

Boutique online edginess aside, Masters struggled to strike a more moderate position for the increasingly purple state of Arizona. At one point in the race, he wiped extreme abortion positions from his campaign website. At another, he scrubbed language saying that the 2020 election had been stolen from President Trump, and at times described the government’s prosecution of January 6 insurgents as authoritarian. 

Through all of it, Masters faced a foil in the form of Kelly, a retired astronaut and businessman. Kelly is no stranger to political violence: his wife, former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), survived a gunshot wound to the head during a 2010 assassination attempt.

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