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Mark Kelly, Gabby Giffords endorse Ruben Gallego for U.S Senate

Mark Kelly and Gabrielle Giffords
Mark Kelly and Gabrielle Giffords in Phoenix in 2016.

Following independent Sen. Krysten Sinema’s announcement yesterday that she won’t run for a second term, Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly has endorsed Ruben Gallego in Arizona’s crucial U.S. Senate race.

So, too, has former Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, Kelly’s wife and the head of a nonprofit bearing her name that works to end gun violence.

In an interview with The Arizona Republic, Kelly said he appreciates his shared background with Gallego as a combat veteran.

“We’ve worked together on so many different issues,” Kelly said of Gallego, who was first elected to Congress in 2014. “We’re both on Armed Services, so we both work together on a lot of veterans and military issues regarding the bases in Arizona.”

And considering the alternative — Gallego is likely to face Kari Lake, the GOP frontrunner in the U.S. Senate race — Kelly said he “can’t stress how strongly I feel that Kari Lake is the wrong answer, not only for the United States Senate, but for any elected position in any state in the country.”

“She is a danger to democracy,” Kelly added.

Sinema’s decision not to seek reelection avoids what could have been a messy three-way race for the Senate seat. Now, with the field cleared, Kelly’s endorsement could hold sway in what’s expected to be a competitive Senate race in Arizona, one that could determine control of the chamber. 

Lake and Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb, who’s also running for the Republican nomination, are hoping to flip control of a Senate seat back to the GOP.

But Kelly, having previously been endorsed by Gallego in his own Senate run in 2020, is now returning the favor. Kelly won that special election, then another in 2022 by beating Republican Blake Masters to win a full six-year term in the U.S. Senate.

In a statement, Kelly criticized Lake for her denials of the 2020 and 2022 election results, including her own loss in the race for governor.

“She uses politics to divide people and is more focused on denying the results of election years in the past than she is on real challenges facing Arizonans today, like the freedom for Arizona women to make their own decisions about abortion,” Kelly said.

Gallego, like Kelly did on the 2022 campaign trail, supports overturning the Senate filibuster rule in order to codify Roe v. Wade — a position that distinguishes them both from Sinema, who lost the support of many Democrats for her efforts to preserve the rule.

In a statement, Gallego said he was honored to have the support of both Kelly and Giffords.

“They represent the very best of Arizona: a courageous dedication to public service, a commitment to getting the hard jobs done, and — above all — a love for our state,” Gallego said.

Gallego also highlighted his and Kelly’s shared, “unwavering commitment to protecting abortion access for Arizona families and doing everything we can to bring down everyday costs.”

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Ben Giles is a senior editor at KJZZ.