Former astronaut Mark Kelly clinched the Democratic Senate nomination in Arizona on Tuesday, marking a formal start to his general election campaign against Sen. Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyMark Kelly clinches Democratic Senate nod in Arizona McSally defeats primary challenger for GOP Senate nod in Arizona Unemployment debate sparks GOP divisions MORE (R-Ariz.).
Kelly’s nomination was virtually never in question. He faced no serious primary opposition and is among the most well-known and best-financed Senate candidates of the 2020 election cycle.
His win on Tuesday marks the official beginning of his general election campaign against McSally, perhaps the most vulnerable GOP incumbent of the 2020 election cycle. Nearly every recent public poll shows Kelly with the advantage in the race, and he will begin the general election fight with nearly $24 million in cash on hand, more than twice as much as McSally.
Republicans argue that Kelly isn’t invincible. They’ve sought to weaken him through attacks on his business and investment record, and have tried to tie him to the “radical Left.”
But McSally will almost certainly face an uphill battle this fall as she seeks to hold onto her Senate seat. She’s currently the only Republican Senate incumbent whose race falls into The Cook Political Report’s “Lean” Democrat column.
At the same time, she already has a history of losing a statewide race. A former representative from Arizona’s 2nd District, McSally was defeated in 2018 by Democrat Kyrsten Sinema in the state’s 2018 Senate race. Weeks after that loss, she was appointed by Gov. Doug DuceyDoug DuceyTrump may have power, but he still has no plan to fight the pandemic GOP governors in Texas, Arizona, Georgia, Florida see approval sink Arizona governor extends order shuttering bars, gyms, theaters MORE (R) to serve out the remainder of the late Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainMark Kelly clinches Democratic Senate nod in Arizona Prominent conservatives question Jerry Falwell Jr. vacation photo NRCC poll finds McBath ahead of Handel in Georgia MORE’s (R-Ariz.) term.
One other factor that could weigh on McSally’s chances in November is the presidential race. President TrumpDonald John TrumpMark Kelly clinches Democratic Senate nod in Arizona Trump camp considering White House South Lawn for convention speech: reports Longtime Rep. Lacy Clay defeated in Missouri Democratic primary MORE carried Arizona in 2016 by 3.5 points, but recent polls show presumptive Democratic nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenMark Kelly clinches Democratic Senate nod in Arizona Hillicon Valley: NSA warns of new security threats | Teen accused of Twitter hack pleads not guilty | Experts warn of mail-in voting misinformation Biden offers well wishes to Lebanon after deadly explosion MORE with a lead there. The former vice president and outside groups supporting him have already spent money in the state.